Day 16 of the #PNIWritingChallenge is a fair question. It is.
I, however, am not a fair person.
I feel like answering this question has the potential to give spoilers in a series where I hope to keep excitement generated. I know I hate spoilers, so I imagine other people do as well.
I’m not going to do that to any of us.
Instead I am posting the question and answering it in a semi-related kind of way.
Have you ever killed a character in a story and been surprised by it?
First, I’ll actually answer and say no. The question is asked in past tense, and that leaves wiggle room. Generally when characters die in my books I have known it’s coming for a long time. Usually they do, too. That being said, who doesn’t love a cliff hanger?
This is where we go off topic.
Not that long ago I wrote a post for one of these challenges – Platinum Age of Television – that discussed favorite TV shows. In that posting I am sure I mentioned Sons of Anarchy, and I may have mentioned Game of Thrones.
Actually, let’s back up more than that even. A bunch of years ago a movie came out called Scream. In that movie, one of the characters listed off the rules of horror movies which, surprisingly, were similar to the rules in almost every other genre of film.
One of the first rules mentioned is main characters do not die. Think Jamie Lee Curtis from the original Halloween movies, if that helps. The sidebar to that is unless it’s needed as a plot device and, even then, that means they weren’t the star of that particular sequel.
Lately television shows on Netflix, HBO, and FX have flipped the script on that. Main characters are killed off like flies in so many shows. As an audience we get upset, but as long as the killing makes sense, we’re good with it.
Think Ned Stark from Game of Thrones. If one hadn’t read the books, one wouldn’t have known how his one decision to bring everyone to town started this shit show of death rolling. No, they would have thought he and Jon Snow would last forever.
Oh, you sweet Summer Child.
Sons of Anarchy mastered this as well. They made a few of the main characters people we wished would die a horrible death anyway, so it was almost a blessing. Yet we cried when that bullet ripped through dude’s throat … didn’t we?
The Walking Dead broke people’s hearts during the Season 7 premiere, so it’s quite obvious that rule about main characters is no longer in effect.
Should it really surprise us when characters are killed off? Even when we as the authors are the ones doing it? I don’t think so, not any more.
It’s become too mainstream. I believe I’ll be more surprised when the action/dramas stop killing off the people we love. Even then I will doubt them; there will always be that kernel in the back of my head that’s waiting for the character to bite the big one before, or even during, the show’s finale.
Today’s question should be fun: what character’s death surprised you most, and have you forgiven the show/book/movie?