People often get really upset when one of their favorite characters in a book, show, or movie gets “killed off.” They often get angry at the writers as though the writer sadistically decided to murder the character. I understand the frustration – I can get pretty emotionally invested in stories too – but really I think people need to chill out.
First of all, having beloved characters die is realistic. People die. We don’t get to decide who or how or when. Sometimes the people we love the most die. Sometimes many people that we love die all around the same time. It happens. And fiction should, at least somewhat, mirror reality.
Secondly, though I still sometimes use the phrase, I think we should stop accusing writers of “killing off characters” unless it is pretty obvious that the death of said character was written purely for shock factor (I’m looking at you, season 3 of Downton Abbey…I don’t know, that all felt really cheap to me…). One time John Green was talking about this (I think someone may have asked him why he decided to kill a certain character) and he said something to the effect of “Authors don’t kill characters; Characters die.” (This is not an exact quote). And I really liked that. I know this sounds kind of mystical, but whatever: The stories and characters that we write, while they are technically our creations and come from our own minds, are separate entities that already exist before we put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as the case may be). The story is already there and it’s our job to write it accurately. The characters already exist and it’s up to us to make sure the actions and dialogue we write for them are consistent with who they are. So, when I write about a character who dies, I’m not sadistically “killing him off,” I’m relaying to my readers the facts of his life. If I feel that a character is supposed to die in the next scene and I don’t write that death, the story is instantly cheapened.
It is perfectly okay to grieve a bit when a character dies, but please stop getting angry at storytellers for writing the deaths of characters. If you only want to experience unrealistic stories in which nothing tragic ever happens…maybe stay in the children’s section? Well… you may even be in danger there…
I have recently read the book Paper Towns (by John Green) and, not only did I thoroughly enjoy the story, I leaned from it. The book is ultimately about perceptions and how we imagine each other. I have two things to talk about considering these things.
1. At one point in the book, one of the characters talks about expectations. He basically said that we should not be mad at other people for not being the way we think they should be. For example, if someone is late to things all the time, we shouldn’t be mad that they aren’t on time, like we expect they should be, because being late is just part of who they are. And we should accept that and remember that there are other reasons to like that person, and our opinion of them shouldn’t be based on their flaws. This made me re-think a lot of things regarding some of my friends and family, and even myself. I realized that I was getting upset at people for not being like me. And it also occurred to me that they were looking at me in the same way. It’s really interesting if you think about it. This could also be helpful in dealing with the people around you.
2. The second point is similar: People often do not see other people as they really are, no matter how well they know them. We imagine each other a certain way and are normally very wrong about our imaginings. People may not be who we think they are, and maybe we should be careful how quickly and easily we draw conclusions. The pictures you have painted of the people in your life may be completely inaccurate.
Lately I haven’t gotten to be around my friends or family very much. This is mostly because I have been busy…and so has everyone else. So it is extremely difficult to get any quality time in with…anyone. This has caused me to feel lonely and detached from society, Like I am in my own little world all my friends are in their little worlds, and my dad is in his little world, etc. The only reason I’m not plummeting into deep depression and/or anxiety is because I still have some faithful companions: Books.
I recently came across a desktop background that has a black and white picture of a book with pages folded into a heart and on the bottom it says “you know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel as if you’ve lost a friend.” This certainly rings true for me. When I read a book, it keeps me company. I feel as though I know the characters, like I invited them into my living room and they are telling me stories of their crazy lives and the lessons they’ve learned and perhaps even walking me through their lives(if that makes sense). And, indeed, when I reach the end of a book, I feel as though I’m losing something….suddenly something is missing. This is probably why I like to have copies of all the books I’ve enjoyed and I hate to get rid of books unless I didn’t really like them all that much. Reading a book that I’ve already read before is like revisiting an old friend. Getting rid of an good book is like losing contact with a good friend. Going to the library is like going to a meet and greet of sorts. But anyway, you get the idea.
I’m not sure if the fact that my books have become my faithful friends (arguably replacing my real friends…for the time being anyway) is really really sad, or just a normal thing that happens in life when things get hectic. But either way, it is still a good thing because, as John Green once stated “the only apprenticeship for aspiring writers is reading books” (I may not have that correct word for word, but it was something of that nature.) So in a way, the lack of a social life is aiding me in becoming a good writer.
So this one is for you, books. Thanks.
P.S.-to all my friends(the real ones that live and breath): I love you all and please don’t feel bad for any of the above sentiments. I know you’re busy, I am too. We will have more time together between semesters 🙂