When is it best to “off” a character?

The email I sent to one of our fiction authors yesterday was hard for her to hear. (Let’s call the author Margo to protect her identity. I’m sensitive to giving away a plot-twist in her upcoming book).

I thought that the death of one of Margo’s characters was the best way to shape the story. One of Margo’s characters must die. It was a beloved friend of the main character, Susan, when any friend was hard for her to come by. But the story needed it; the reader would be served better by the loss; then Susan would grow stronger in Christ because He was all she had left. Margo must “off” the beloved friend.

Margo protested. Although the character was deathly ill she could not bear the thought of it. Here is the email exchange as we toyed with the life of the character.

Margo:

Don’t you think the readers will hate it if we kill him off?

Deb: 

Yes, I think they will feel the pain. 

But I also think it will make a more convincing story. Plus we have women readers who can identify with horrendous loss and need to know that God is there with them in it. Like Christ sacrificed his life for Susan; through her loss Susan gained a new heart for God. 

If you feel strongly about the loss so will your readers. That is a good thing. 

So, do you think you can do it? Wish I could be there for moral support! 🙂

 Margo: 

We’ll “off” him, no problem.

 Isn’t that what we love about fiction? Great characters we feel passionately about. Characters we adore—or loathe. Well-developed characters that make us feel their longing, pain and joy. Characters we hate to see come to an untimely end. Then there is the dark side of every story and the characters that are so evil that we cheer when justice is done. This is what makes a good tale a memorable one.

At Moody publisher’s new fiction line, River North Fiction, we plan to serve you, the Christian fiction reader, by bringing you stories replete with engaging characters that will encourage and inspire you as well as challenge you to see the invisible, living God. You will glimpse love, pain, joy, heartbreak, and through it all grasp the enduring love that our God has for His creation: you.

So over the course of our blog posts Brittany and I will be sharing life, love, fiction and faith. We hope to hear what you think, what you like, and what you want to see.

Enjoy,

Deb Keiser

Acquisitions Editor

 

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