Did you recently kill off a character? Do you regret it? Do you want to get that character back but are too good to simply resurrect the character?
Well we’ve got a lesser known, yet equally cheap gimmick for you; take the character from another reality! At the low cost of your writing credibility, you can have you character back without any consequences, retconning, or necromancy what so ever!
Ugh… okay… Like I said above, it’s a lesser known work-around for death, but still a pretty bad one. I think I first saw it in the mid-late 90s early TV show: Hercules. At one point late in the series, we see Iolaus, the lovable sidekick get killed off… and almost instantly brought back as a meager character with a different personality. I’m not sure where they went with this, because I lost interest in the show, but I can’t imagine the gimmick stuck.
As I’ve stated before, we’ve seen this type of thing for a very long time. When a character dies in Marvel or DC comics, mass eye-rolling ensues. Why? Because its seen as a gimmick now. It has no heart, no impact, nothing. Everyone knows that more than likely that character won’t be dead for more than a year or two, AT MOST.
This lackluster story-writing is probably one of the main reasons that comic sales are dropping, second only to the complete over-saturation of identity politics in Marvel and DC comics. (Arguably more so Marvel, but when the Green Arrow calls himself a Social Justice Warrior… ugh!)
Anyway, I’ve started seeing this in traditional writing, specifically in the fantasy realm. Fellow writers, if you take nothing else away from my blog, let it be this piece of advice;
Don’t cater to your writers, but please respect them!
Write what you want to write. Make sure that what you right is something that YOU enjoy first and foremost. If you don’t like what you’re writing, it will reflect in your writing, and your readers are going to pick up on it. At the same time however, if you kill off a character, PLEASE don’t find a way to bring them back just because it was a likable character. If your writing is strong enough, a story can survive a beloved main character dying off (Star Wars anyone?).
We’re not fragile little snowflakes. We don’t need to be treated as such. Will we be upset when a character dies? Did I shed a tear when Asajj Ventress was killed off in Dark Disciple? SHUT UP!
But we get over it and often see it as a bold choice that only served to enhance the story as time went on.
Anyway, that’s just my thoughts on the subject. Let a character stay dead, this cop out isn’t a cop out at all. It’s bad… really bad!
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Catch you on the flip side!
Agreed. By bringing the character back with minimal consequences, you’re taking away most of the emotional punch that the death could have had.
I’d suggest authors consider an alternative: bring the character “back” through non-linear storytelling. They’re still dead in the present, but you can spend more time with them (and even continue to flesh them out) through flashbacks.
Maybe the paragon of justice actually had a dark past. Maybe the bad guy had some good reasons for ending up that way. Or maybe you can explore the past interactions with still-living characters that will shape how they act even after the dead character is long gone.
If it’s done right, I think this sort of thing can enhance the emotional impact of the character’s death, instead of diminishing it.
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Or how about the twin that’s so much like the original character they might as well be the same character? They don’t even need to be actually related, just be a carbon copy of the original.
Yeah, that one always irked me as well. It’s like you literally had a ‘spare’ sitting around the entire time.
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I’ve had the exact same thought many times over. Teasing a sacrifice and then copping out on it is not just lazy writing, it is emotionally manipulative and disrespectful to the reader. Obviously writers want their audience to feel powerful emotions, but great writers recognize that those feelings are sacred and treat them with utmost respect, never as a gimmick.
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