The Secret Behind Writing Meaningful Character Deaths

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are doing well and staying creative.

With spooky season right around the corner, and with that recent episode of critical role, I’ve been thinking about character deaths lately. Morbid, I know. But realistically, not every character makes it to the end of the story alive. So today, let’s talk about the key to writing meaningful death scene.

For the Story

In fiction, death must serve a purpose, whether to the overall plot or to the characters themselves.

A single character’s death could be used as a major catalyst in the events of a story and the lives of other characters. In terms of the narrative, character death can raise the stakes. It’s a wakeup call to both the cast and the audience that lives are at stake. That not every character may survive in the end. By raising the stake in this way, the underlying tension and suspense will grow, and readers will be hanging on the edge of their seats.

Apart from building suspense, a character’s death can also add to the atmosphere and exposition. A death scene can set the mood for the story, in practically any genre. Remember the writing rule, ‘Show, Don’t Tell‘, and save yourself from writing an info-dump. If the fictional world is plagued with war or a virus, then bodies hitting the ground is an effective, and incredibly terrifying, image. Use a character’s death as a tool for creating the mood of a setting.

For the Characters

For other characters specifically, another character’s death can change how they go forward in their lives. Characters should be written like real life people. Death often comes will a strong emotional response.. When someone dies, it can change one’s outlook or view on their world, other people or ever themselves. For better or for worse. It can alter the course of their future actions.

However, be careful using this as a plot device as it can lean towards cliché. Often times, killing one to motivate another can feel like an overused or stale occurrence. Think about it. How many movies involve the main character’s love interest dying and as a result, the hero rises and is motivated to avenge their lover? And unfortunately, because of this, women are sometimes written off as expendable and not as fully developed characters. Big no-no, writer bees.

Final Thoughts

Next time you think about killing your darlings, take a minute and consider this. What purpose does this character’s death serve? How with this impact the story and other characters? Really considering the why can be a game changer in your writing.


How do you go about writing a character’s death scene? What character in fiction crushed you when they died? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky.

The Golden Rule of Fiction Writing: Show, Don’t Tell

Hello Writer Bees,

This week, we’re talking about the fundamental golden rule of fiction writing. A technique most writers know as Show, don’t tell. But what is show, don’t tell? How do you use this writing technique? Will it help take your stories to the next level? Let’s explore that, shall we?

What is Show Don’t Tell?

In simple terms, Show Don’t Tell is a writing technique where the writer leaves behind lengthy expositions and explanations. Instead, the plot, it’s tone and characterization are all conveyed through actions, thoughts, and feelings. Showing the audience instead of telling them point blank. At its heart, Show, Don’t Tell is about how readers experience a story. How they learn information and how they draw their own conclusions.

And many famous authors have used this technique in their creative works too. There’s this quote by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov that is often associated with the Show Don’t Tell technique. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Also, Ernest Hemingway shared similar views on storytelling in his notable iceberg theory.

Tips on Using the Show Don’t Tell Rule

  • Set up the Setting: When describing the setting, play with the reader’s senses. Remember, it’s not just about the visuals. Think about how sight, smell, sound, touch and taste tie into a scene. What noises can be heard from the background? What does the texture of a blanket feel like? What are the flavors of a home-cooked meal? No need to go overboard with details but give the audience enough to feel immersed in the world.
  • Digging the Dialogue: How characters communicate with one another can be a telling sign of their relationship. Think about it, you’d speak to a family member differently than a coworker, right? Plus, dialogue is an excellent tool for showing a character’s nature and personality. Someone with an excitable personality is going to have more lively conversation while a shy person may mumble or stutter a bit.
  • Understanding Emotions: When in doubt, pull that flowery language out of your writer sleeves. Every writer has that in their arsenal. Metaphors, similes, and personification can help express emotions and moods in any story. Like “the chill of fear tumbling down your spine“. That sort of wordy goodness. Keep in mind, this poetic style of writing may not suit your specific narrator. For example, my WIP’s narrator, Oscar Fitzgerald, is fast talking and not exactly a poetic soul.

Examples of Show Don’t Tell.

TELLINGSHOWING
She was tired.Dragging her feet, she yawned and stretched out her arms.
The room was filthy.Dirty laundry strewn across the floor. Stains on the paint chipped walls. A rotten smell in the air.
He was a shy guy.Staring at his shoes, his stood on the sidelines of the party. With a soft voice, a blush painted his face as he tried to start a conversation.

Final Thoughts

Does each sentence you write need to follow this rule? Probably not. Exposition can come in handy, if used correctly. Find the balance between showing enough and telling enough. Will the Show Don’t Tell technique improve the quality of your stories? In my opinion? Yeah. By showing rather than telling, the whole story gains a new level of depth and complexity, and it allows readers to fully engage with the plot, characters and overall tone.


What are your thoughts on Show Don’t Tell ? Do you apply this technique to your writing? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.

Have a question about creative writing or blog writing? Let me know! It may be answered in a post in the near future.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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