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D is for Death #AtoZChallenge

The type of death I’m writing about here is a character’s death in a story. Despite the death being fictional, it can still arouse grief and even anger in the reader.

I’m dealing with a probable fictional death right now.

The first time I encountered it as a reader, I was around ten and reading the Anne of Green Gables series of books. Anne’s friend died of consumption.

I was stunned.

How could this have happened? Sure, the girl had been sick, but it was a story. Why didn’t the author make it all okay in the end?

That was the first time I had to consider that books might reflect reality.

I think my childhood ended that day.

Since then, I’ve experienced thousands of fictional deaths, and most of them, on reflection, were warrented because they move the story forward or develop character.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t piss me off when it happens.

I’m reading Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes right now, and if you’ve ever read any Stephen King, you’ll know no one is safe.

I’m already getting irritated, because I just know at least one character I like will buy it before the end. I’m sure I know who, too.

There are no HEA endings in King’s world, so even when good triumphs over evil, it’s not like the lovers get to walk off into the sunset together.

Does he always have to be so cruel?

As a reader, I want the HEA, good and love victorious over evil and hate. But the writer in me knows that’s not always best for the story, so I’ve killed my fair share of nice guys and parted lovers through death.

Mad as I’m going to get by the end of Mr. Mercedes, I’ll understand why King has it play out that way.

I’m tempted to set it aside for a while and read a Nora Roberts romance to bring in some light. Then I can come back to the darkness of King’s story.

This reminds me of that episode of Friends where Joey and Rachel swap favourite books, and Joey reads Little Women while Rachel reads The Shining.

Maybe I’ll put Mr. Mercedes in the freezer for a while.

If you already know what happens, don’t tell me. No doing what Rachel did to Joey.



5 Responses

  1. I must admit I’m getting worried about my own psychology. My latest novel not only has a couple of natural deaths, it has two suicides. And an earlier book also ended in a (failed) suicide attempt.
    Frank Parker’s Author Site
    BTW, Val. Do you write your atoz posts on the day, or are you like me having been at it since early March to ensure you have some in hand? (I wrote my ‘N’ this morning)

    • I’ve been doing it the day of, Frank. Seat of the pants all the way. I was too absorbed with my thesis and my current novel to get ahead on the blog posts.

      Good for you for managing to get all the way to ‘N’ by this morning.

  2. I smiled throughout this post Val. In my thrillers I ensure somebody has to die, and oft times more than one character. My greatest challenge isn’t who dies, but how. 🙂
    Good post.

  3. […] if Moore is another Stephen King? King, in case you haven’t read any of his novels, doesn’t believe in HEA or HFN or even letting characters you fall in love with live to the end of the story. If you hit […]

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