Do you have to kill off your characters for a story to be considered good?
I was told that if characters don't die the danger isn't real.
No, all you have to do is tell a good story. There are no other rules. Gratuitous death isn't going to turn a bad book into a good one.
The short answer is no, you don't have to kill off characters for a story to be considered good.
However, if your story is set in a war zone and your character is constantly in combat and narrowly avoids a mortal wound time after time after time, the reader is going to lose interest since it's unbelievable.
That being said, sometimes killing off character(s) is a necessary evil for the sake of plot. If you really examine novels in which characters die, you'll see that the death is usually a catalyst for subplots, if not the entire plot.
No. A story is good when it has a strong plot with conflict in it. Also, backstory, AKA exposition, makes it good. This helps readers understand the characters better.
It's definitely not required. But I think death is commonly associated with good books because it represents a willingness to let the story go where it needs to go. We all have characters that we like (as readers and writers) and to let one of them die can be the hardest thing to do.
Some deaths are assumed, like the mentor figure, and some aren't, like a love interest or friend. But, if you're the writer and you're saving a character for no other reason than you don't want them to die, then I think you aren't letting the story go where it wants to go. However, if your story isn't calling for a character death, then injecting one in there isn't going to make it better.
As writers we convey the story, but we're not always directing it. One of the most difficult things to do can be letting that story take the wheel, no matter how heartbreaking it might be.
Like others have said, it depends on the story. If the character keeps getting into near-death situations and escaping, it's not going to be believable. But if your story doesn't have a lot of danger in it, you probably don't need to have deaths in the main plot. Reference to death at some point is probably a given, because death is a part of life. It could be someone your character knows, or someone from their past. Also, a person doesn't have to die to have something hit home. They can go through some pretty horrible things, and you can make it seem realistic by showing what they see and feel from their point of view, their terror, panic etc. I put my characters through a lot, and sometimes they probably might wish for death, but meanie that I am, I don't give it to them, because I like them too much.
No, it depends on the genre. If it is a romantic or funny story then I don't think it should be required for someone to die. If it is suspense or action and the setting or theme has that likeness for someone to get killed, then someone has to get killed especially in a war as casualty or in a suspense thriller where a psycho is on its prey.
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