Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!
I remember a scene from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A villain named Peter Pettigrew killed student Cedric Diggory in front of Harry. Cedric’s spirit asked that Harry not leave his body behind with Voldemort and Pettigrew. When Harry grabbed the portkey (goblet) and returned to where the crowd awaited them during the last part of the Triwizard Tournament, Cedric’s father wailed when he discovered that his son was dead. ☹ Killing off or removing a character is not always easy, but it is essential if you want your novel to march on.
As a child, we were taught that all stories are written with a beginning, middle, and end (like a stop light but backwards!)—or if you want to be more technical, the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution/Denouement. (If you want a quick break down of the “5 Elements of Plot,” check out this link: https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/plot-planning/7309/5-elements-of-plot-and-how-to-use-them-to-build-your-novel
It is towards the end or at the Climax that we decide to eliminate a character. It can be a person, place, or even a thing that’s beloved, hated, or some cases, both. But whatever you decide, making this significant change in your story can either be a gleeful experience (“Finally! He needed to go!”) or painful like this tiny excerpt from my book Amachi’s Hope. Though it hurt to do so, I had to sacrifice Morenike to allow the story (and his children) to move forward. ☹
Shuddering as if palsied, the deadly haze rushed into Morenike’s body and destroyed every positive thought and feeling on contact. Bleeding, Morenike fell, closed his eyes, and slipped from the living world. No goodbyes, no final words. He died believing that his greatest fear might come true: the death of a loved one by the hand of evil.
It sucks to remove a favorite character. But there has to be something to break the monotony. During my earlier versions of Amachi’s Hope, I realized that I always gravitated towards happy endings. I had very little loss in my story. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you will lose the reader’s interest. Plus, in a YA/Fantasy novel, it’s not realistic. There has to be an anchor that holds the reader or bait that reels them in. “He’s dead?! My goodness! What will happen next? Will his children survive?” As a reader, I know I’d want to know more.
Amachi’s Hope is a novel that shares the experiences of her kin, and none of their journeys move forward without a major incident occurring in their lives. It is a form of growth or, in some cases, transformation. As we know, a metamorphosis of any kind does not happen without some sacrifice. Did you kill off a character in your book or short story? Was he/she loved or hated? I invite you to share!
Come again soon!