Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fifty Ways to Kill

Among the stranger things an author might research are all the ways to kill off a character. You might think it would be easy to knock off a character--but you would be wrong. Of course, there are the usual suspects. Shooting. Stabbing. Poisoning. Car accident. Drowning. Battle. But those have been done--pardon the pun--to death.

I've started a list of the more unusual ways my favorite authors have killed off a character. It takes imagination and creativity to make it work. You can't just present a messy death without setting up a plausible scene...and a believable narrative. So here's some of my favorites...not fifty, of course, but two or three.

1. Beheading by video game. Fantasy in Death by Nora Roberts. Yep, this one definitely grabbed my attention. I'm not going to 'splain it, but I read the entire book in one sitting to find out how Lt. Eve Dallas figured it out.

2. Bear attack. Prey by Linda Howard. The trick here was arranging a realistic reason for the character to be available for the bear. Incidentally, this was one damn, scary bear. Brrrrr.

3. Fall from a horse. Connagher by Louis L'Amour. Again...the reason this was unusual was because so many times western writers use guns as though that was the only way folks died then. This time the character was trapped beneath the horse in the wilderness...and eventually died there.

I've read a zillion stories where authors have killed off characters. And I've spent some time considering all the ways a human can die. So it surprises me when an author goes with the tried and true as though shooting or stabbing someone is the only way. Yeah, it takes more thought and time to set up, but the payoff in adding interest to the story is immeasurable.

So...what's the most interesting way you've read of a character dying? 

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