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.

A Month of Mystery Posts Wrap up (2022)

Hello Writer Bees!

Thank you to everyone for stopping by for May of Mystery and celebrating detective fiction with me. In case you missed it, here is a wrap up of all the mystery themed posts from this month.

Mystery Writing Prompts

Scene of the Crime

The Greatest Detective

Like a Dangerous Woman

A Note Left Behind

Shrouded in Mystery

Mystery Themed Posts

5 Archetypes of Fictional Detectives

Born a Bloodhound (Detective Flash Fiction)

Writing my 1st Whodunit Draft in a College Writing Workshop

Watson Who?: Tips on Creating A Detective’s Sidekick (Repost)


If you have an idea for another genre themed month, lemme know in the comments!

Stay safe and stay creative!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Watson Who?: Tips on Creating A Detective’s Sidekick (Repost)

Holmes and Watson

Poirot and Hastings

Nick and Nora

These are just some of the iconic duos of detective fiction. Where would an inspector be without their trusted companion by their side? Today, I’m talking about the detective’s partner in crime, the “Watson” of a story and what to consider when creating this character.

The Function of the Foil

Opposites attract, right? The purpose of a foil – or a foil character – is to highlight the traits of the main character. Their contrast in personality or appearance reflect and highlight the specific traits and quirks of a protagonist. For example, if the detective is level-headed, maybe their sidekick is impulsive. If the detective is a total genius, maybe their companion is a bit more oblivious. Play around with the duo’s personalities. You might find their differences make them even more compatible as a team.

For the People

Not only does the sidekick serve their detective, they also serve the audience. Usually, the “Watson” is charged with narrating the story, and every step of the investigation. They pull information about the case from the inspector, or from their own observations, and present them to the reader. How to readers find out about clues, suspects and crime scenes? Usually through the narration of the “Watson” type character. As a close ally, the sidekick knows the inspector well. When the main sleuth is hard to read, their companion acts as a bridge between a distant detective and the audience. Through their interactions with the sleuth, the partner keeps the detective human for the readers, and that is such an important role in a mystery plot.

Dynamic Duo

The heart of any mystery is the relationship between the inspector and his companion. Consider the relationship they have. Are they roommates? Lovers? Acquaintances? Have fun with the relationship between the inspector and their companion. Readers want to root for a dynamic duo. Sure, they may not be on the same page all the time. During their sleuthing, morals and consciences will be tested. A little conflict between the two may makes things interesting. Partners balance each other out. Let there be a solid comradery and playful banter. Readers want to see how these two characters play off one another and how they work together. Oftentimes, the sidekick is there for the detective to bounce theories off of. Think about it, Watson is an extension of the detective’s thought process.


At the end of the day, a sleuth’s sidekick can be a valuable addition to any mystery story. Really consider the kind of partner your detective characters need by their side during an investigation.

Who are some of your favorite detective duos in fiction? Lemme know in the comments!

Stay safe and stay creative!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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(This is an edited repost. Hope you all enjoyed May of Mystery! – Victoria a.k.a Lady Jabberwocky)

Writing my 1st Whodunit Draft in a College Writing Workshop

Hello Writer Bees!

As some of you may know, my current WIP is a 1920’s murder mystery. But what inspired my first mystery story? When and how was “draft zero” born? Here is the story of how I started writing detective fiction.

A flashback to my college days. Because I was interested in mystery genre, I decided to take a detective fiction course. Super fun elective class. We read all the greats, like Doyle, Poe, Christie, and Spillane.  That same semester, I was also taking a fiction writing class, as one of my degree requirements.  

Here’s how fiction writing workshop worked. My professor charged us to write 2 short stories – any subject, any genre – 10 to 15 pages in length. Each session was dedicated to one student’s creative piece. Together, we’d discuss and critique each other’s work, offering constructive feedback. Picture your peers and fellow writers reading and judging your story, dissecting it in front of you. Needless to say, critique day was a daunting, nerve wracking and incredibly rewarding experience.

My first go around at workshop, I wrote The Tale of a Boy and a Mermaid, which I have posted here on this blog. Next turn up at bat, I wanted to write something out of my wheelhouse, something different.

Inspired by the mysteries I was reading at the time, I decided to try my hand at writing a whodunit. I thought, maybe this critique was the perfect opportunity to test drive this vague idea for a detective character I had. And mind you, none of my peers were writing any close to a murder mystery. As always, I was the oddball out.

With Jabberwock mode engaged, I furiously wrote a murder mystery, finishing the morning of my class. College deadlines, am I right? The story centered around the detective and his aid, Mister G.W. Barnaby and Oscar Fitzgerald, solving a case. Set in a 1920s Broadway theatre, an actress is shot with an assumed prop gun that had real bullets instead of fake ones. A bit cliché, I know. But I enjoyed writing a mystery, crafting suspects and leaving clues. Really did fall in love with the genre. Titling it ‘Murder at the Primdove Theatre’, I submitted the story to be judged by my classmates, biting my nails the whole time.

Surprisingly, they seemed to like the story. Peers pointed out their favorite lines and gushed over how fitting character names were to the time period. And that “Wow, what a plot twist!” moment from readers is priceless. However, I did receive some notes, like the pacing being too fast and not much setting description. Even with the notes of criticism, I was still proud of my little whodunit.

After I graduated, I set my sights on my next big goal; Becoming a published author before I turn 30 years old. Since I couldn’t get these sleuths out of my head, I gave them another case to crack, the Case of the Drowned Mermaid. Some elements from the workshop story carried over into my WIP, like the relationship between suspects. So, I always consider my first try at a whodunit as my ‘draft zero’, the little seed that started it all.

Moral of the story: If there is a time to take a risk with your craft, a writing workshop is the place to do it. Seriously, it’s a good place to experiment, to create freely, and to receive some honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to write outside your comfort zone. You’d be surprised what the outcome will be.

In my case, it was my current mystery WIP.


Hope you found my life story interesting. Do you have a story behind your first draft? Have you ever been involved with a writing workshop or class? Lemme know in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative. Happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Born a Bloodhound (Detective Mystery Flash Fiction)

Hello Super Sleuths,

This work on fiction is based on last week’s post, the 5 archetypes of fictional detectives. Enjoy!


In every lifetime, I’d been born a bloodhound.

The city was a graveyard, grey and cold and deadly silent. It was near midnight. On a lonely street corner by the museum, I stood there in the pouring rain. Fedora and trench coat drenched. Smoke rose from the sewer grate.

She stood beside me, a viper in heels. Eyelashes sharp like butcher knives.

“Finn, darling,” Her hands slip inside my coat, warm as a shot of ice cold whiskey. She whispered into my ear. “Let’s forget about this little museum jewel heist. The robbers are probably long gone by now,” The minx kissed me, full and feverish. Lips were red like a stop sign. “Couldn’t we just run off together instead? It’d be so easy.” Easy, she says. Easy like a bullet to the head.

I lit a cigarette and eyed the moon. “A dame like you is going to be in a world of trouble someday.” She snickered, her fingers inched towards the gun holstered on my hip. I snatched her wrist. “Quit playing games and fess up already. I know about your little scheme. Now, you want to tell me where that million-dollar diamond is? Or do I have to search you myself?”

Eyebrow raised, she offered a wide wolfish grin, full of teeth and poison. “Please do, inspector.”
———————————————————————————————————–

Every incarnation, there is a trail I’m bound to follow.

That sunny summer morning on Cherry Blossom Lane, I sat cozy in my armchair. On the coffee table, there’s a tray of tea and oatmeal cookies. The rain would arrive later, my bones could sense it. 

“Miss Finnegan, are you feeling alright?” The aid, Gloria, handed me a porcelain teacup embellished with golden roses. Accepting the cup, I nodded with a smile. Looking out the window once more, I watched the new neighbors shuffle cardboard boxes. Lady Whiskerdown, my faithful companion, leapt into my lap.

“Dear? Did you hear about Mister Massey next door?” I asked.

She hummed. “They said it was a robbery gone wrong, yes? Poor thing.”

“His son moved in so quickly after his father’s death, don’t you think?” I pondered. As soon as the yellow police tape was removed, the son was quick to move into the lovely estate. How odd. Lady Whiskerdown thought it odd too.

“Miss Finnegan, you are being nosey again,”  The nurse teased, wagging her finger. As Gloria left the room to fetch my afternoon pills, I gripped my walker, hoisting myself up. “Where are you off to now?”

I may be retired, but an old dog like me can sense trouble when it’s around. Like the rain, my bones could sense it. I gave her a sweet, harmless smile. “Only saying hello to the new neighbors. Where’s the harm in that?”


Every breath dedicated to unraveling the most tangled of life’s mysteries.

After hours, school gave me the heebie-jeebies. Once bustling with classmates, the hallways were eerily empty. Flashlights in hand, my pals and I the snuck around. With the janitor’s permission, of course. He wasn’t thrilled about the recent hauntings and kidnappings either. Our sneakers squeaked against the linoleum tiles. A heavy mini backpack strapped to my back, full of everything a good detective needs to catch a ghost. Fishing net included. Scrunchie on my wrist, in case of emergency.

We found locker #66G. I pried open the metal locker with a screwdriver, its contents spilling out on the floor. Let’s see. A stack of overdue homework. A half-eaten cheeseburger. A bag of glow-in-the-dark powder. I gulped. “Guys,” I turned to my gang of cohorts: The mathlete with thick rimmed glasses, the blonde vixen in a cheerleader uniform, the skater with the tie dye shirt, the dog. “I think I found something.”

Above us, the lights flickered. A strained, moaning sound rang through the halls. Suddenly, a specter in white rags with a phantom mask appeared, floating and glowing a ghoulish green. Rattling chains looped around it’s arms.

“It-it-it’s the Grahamsville G-G-Ghost!”

“Yikes!”

“Finley, run!” My friend called out to me. The Grahamsville Ghost hovered towards us.  

Real ghost or not, I wasn’t looking to become the next missing victim. New plan: Run!


I tried experimenting with different tones here, different subgenres of mystery fiction. Sometimes, It’s good to write outside your comfort zone. In the first part, I was aiming for noir vibes, second part was more a cozy mystery and third part was based on Saturday morning cartoons. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. I’m open to feedback.

Happy sleuthing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

5 Archetypes of Fictional Detectives

Hello sleuths!

Welcome to May of Mystery, an entire month dedicated to detective fiction and mystery lovers alike.

At the heart of every mystery story is a detective ready to crack the case. In detective fiction, any character can become a sleuth. Detectives can come from any background, any walk of life, and have differing methods of deduction. Let’s investigate the various types of fictional detectives, shall we? Here are 5 classic archetypes of detectives in mystery fiction.

Amateur Sleuth

This is somewhat an general term for any mystery solver who has no connection with law enforcement. Nor do they get paid in assisting in an investigation. These types of fictional detectives can be adventure seekers, inquisitive reporters or simply nosy neighbors. Regardless of their reason for investigating, Amateur Sleuths are guided by their curiosity and desire for knowledge and justice. Because they may lack the skills a “proper detective”, their investigations tend to be a learning experience for them.

Hardboiled Detective

A staple in noir fiction, the hardboiled detective is one of the more notable archetypes. All a hardboiled detective needs is a trench coat, a gun and their acholic beverage of choice. With their tough exteriors, they have a cynical outlook on the world. Their morals are grey, there is no right or wrong. Protagonists are often depicted as Anti Heroes, or characters who act in self-interest and don’t have typical heroic qualities. An untraditional knight in shining armor, if you will. Perhaps that’s why they sometimes get tangled up with Femme Fatales. Famous fiction detectives such as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade are noted as quintessential hardboiled detectives.

Private Investigator

Next up, the private investigator, another notable type of fictional detective. Usually self employed or cooperating alongside law enforcement, they follow their own rules and their own means of investigating and deduction. In some cases, private investigators have had previous experience working for law enforcement, and may still have connections. Most of the time, they are hired by clients who are in desperate need of their sleuthing skills. Genius great detective types, like Consulting Detective Sherlock Holmes would fit this archetype.

Little Old Lady

For a more cozy mystery, call on grandma to save the day. From years of wisdom and experience, they seem to have a knack for this mystery solving thing. Using their unassuming appearance to their advantage, they attract little attention and can work around the cops. Instead of having intense interrogations, suspects sometimes confide details on the case willingly. Constantly underestimated, who would think a sweet little old lady could crack the case? The iconic Miss Marple, created by Agatha Christie, is the perfect example of this type of fictional detective.

Kid Detective

Often designed for a younger audience in an adventure-centric plot, a kid detective is another type of detective found in mystery fiction. Though they may not need to be an actual child, this archetype includes sleuths who are minors. These young snoops must sneak passed the suspicious adults without getting in trouble with their parents. They rely on trickery and sneaking around to obtain evidence. Being juveniles, they face difficulty asking questions of adults and convincing police that a crime was committed. The cases they take on never involve violence or truly dangerous situations, their antagonists are harmless. Some would argue that Mystery Inc. from the Scooby Doo Franchise would fall under this category.


What are you favorite types of detective characters? And for all the mystery writers out there, which archetype would you categorize your sleuth under? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you guys.

Happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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