Character Death: When Do You Use It?

How do you know when it’s right to kill off a character and when it’s unnecessary?

That’s something I’ve asked myself countless times. I’ve been working on a story for years, and it’s one of those stories where, if I were the one reading it, I would expect some sort of death. But when you’re the writer, you have to be the one to make that decision, and I’ve never been quite sure how to do that.

Despite accusations that writers like to kill off characters for fun or to upset readers, I don’t think that’s the case. I know death should have a purpose within the story, but over the years, it’s also something I’ve come to believe should happen within any genre fiction story. Over the years, I’ve been influenced to believe that it’s necessary.

At the same time, I don’t feel like I know how to actually use character death as a writer. I don’t know when it’s the right thing for the story. It baffles me no matter how much I think about it or how much I try to figure it out.

It’s become one of my biggest issues while working on this particular project. If I write a death, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or if I’m just adding it in because I think I need death. If I don’t write a death, I wonder if it makes the story too unrealistic or if I’m giving in to my own desire for all the characters to make it out alive.

I just can’t figure it out.

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