On killing of background characters.

February 25, 2010 at 20:42 (General)

Once upon a time, far far away, there was a kingdom.
And in that kingdom all knights were cannon fodder.

Ok.
Wait! What?

It is inevitable.
If your world is alive and filled with people, someone has to die.
Soldiers, knight or passers-by.
It does not matter who they are.
They can be victims of the evil that the main character opposes.
Or they are evil and they are slaughtered by the main character.
And that is what they are for.
They live to be killed.

The thing is, that some books or TV shows take it to the extreme.

For example, if you are watching a TV show and see main characters accompanied by some minor background characters to a far away planet, you know someone is going to be killed.
And you know who.

The thing that disturbs me, is that these deaths are meaningless.
Ok, so poor gunner got shot.
Well, it happens.

Twelve bravest, most noble and most valiant knights meet their violent end.
That’s bad, but hey, the main characters are still alive.
We should celebrate.

With the knights the thing is even more complicated.
One of them had a name.
You see, background characters have their own hierarchy, and those who have names, are of higher rank than those who don’t.
And that knight appeared in almost every episode.
At least his death should make a difference.

What I am trying to say, is that if every death in your book will be overlooked by the main characters, then are your characters really human?
Do they have feelings, do they truly interact with other people?

Do not make them cry after every single person who is killed during a war.
But don’t make everyone faceless and nameless.

And after all, if the main character decided to fight with the evil than he must have a reason.
It might be that he cares about those faceless and nameless people.

We have become indifferent to death that we see on TV or read about in books. for there is so much of it around us.
However, as writers we have the opportunity to make people care.
To make them cry because people are dying.

Let’s not waste it.

Thank you for reading.

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2 Comments

  1. SugarRos said,

    It’s true that you can always tell who is going to die in the action flicks (for the most part). I think Hollywood is at least attempting to shy away from the cliche’ death character however. I tend to see less and less of it (although once in a while another one pops up).

    Death gives an adult-perspective of life, I think. The whole: “we’re all fragile, we can go at any second” thing. It’s not bad, really, but too much is too much. I mean, in my whole life I’ve never seen someone die while on a trip to the beach or out camping. People don’t necessarily ALWAYS die, which is why deaths in writing can sometimes be a little over-the-top and unbelievable.

    Of course, people did die more often in the age of the Knights than they do now….

    • aishikami said,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I love your blog name XD and the titles of your posts.
      The whole idea is brilliant :D.

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