Death in the Novel.

Death happens.  It is part of the life we live, and very rarely is it celebrated.  But it is unavoidable.

It is like this in the novel too, and sometimes you’ll find yourself putting the knife to someone you never thought would leave the pages, or someone you wanted to spend more time with.  But we can’t choose that moment in reality, neither can we choose that moment in writing fiction; that is, of course, if we are writing truthfully.

I remember knowing that this point was coming in one of my novels, and my girlfriend, sensing I was sad, asked me if I was okay.  I said I was sad because one of my characters wasn’t going to make it.  She looked slightly puzzled when I said I had no choice but to kill the character.  But the character had to go.  It would have been untruthful to keep them alive.

This leads me to the novel, again, being a distilled version of life.  It’s why we go to novels – so we can see that we are not the only people to go through these things, and we can see how others have dealt with it, albeit in a fictional world; but, if it’s written well, it really doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or reality.  It is still a death.

This post comes off the back of me coming to terms with two deaths: one of them is fictional, the other not.  Of course, the one in reality has had most effect on me; those bonds were the strongest and they can’t be re-read, or re-shaped, just remembered for what they are.  But there are hints of those emotions that come through when I’m writing – more than hints in fact, and that is a good thing.  Writing is feeling, and exploring those feelings is its very essence to me.  Writing is also remembering those feelings so we don’t forget those that have gone.

That’s all for now.


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4 Responses to Death in the Novel.

  1. Huw Thomas says:

    Profound and eloquent, Rob. (Personally, I mainly kill characters that I want to kill!)

  2. sknicholls says:

    I have had to kill a character that I felt had a wonderful opportunity to be someone special. That really bites. The the death was made all the more significant by her foreseeable opportunity, which made for better writing. She is sorely and respectfully missed.

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