How To Make Your Character’s Death As Sad As Possible
Here is your "right in the feels" checklist, a list to ensure your character has a death sad enough to honor their life.
1. Time of Death
Don’t have your characters die of old age after long, fulfilling and happy lives. This isn’t sad. This is the easy route to take. The younger your character is, the better. Leaving a character’s major life goal unfinished is key; the more enthusiastic they were about reaching that goal, the better. Kill them off in the middle of their character arc for maximum effect.
2. Cause of Death
Whatever way you choose to kill them off, have your character fight against this force. Their ultimate loss at the end of the struggle is more hard-hitting when they fought so desperately to prevent it. Drawn out suffering leading up to an unavoidable end is just as effective as killing a character of suddenly.
Give your characters strong relationships and bonds with those around them – both lovers, family and friends. Unfinished business among characters can be tragically effective.Focus on those that are left behind and how they feel about the loss, their reactions and emotions are an important tool.
4. Choosing your Target
Often, if you find it hard to kill off a character, it is a good sign. You shouldn’t have “disposable” characters among your cast, because there is less emotion tied to them and readers can often predict their deaths. Try to make each character as meaningful as the next, so no matter who you choose, it has a similar effect.
5. The Build Up
It helps a lot if you plan your book in advance, so you know who is going to die, when and how. This makes it easier to “let go” as an author, and it can aid you in building them up before their death. This is an extra push for the readers’ love, to make the death even more tear-jerking.
6. The Aftermath
Do not waste time going into detail of funerals. The readers do not care about the flowers or the church’s layout.They want to mourn for the character, so less is definitely more. Describe the coffin in a few words perhaps, but focus on the emotions of the characters. You do not want to kill the sadness.