I’ve recently read a number of books in which a secondary, or a secondary/almost-main character is killed. And the impact of that death is different in each one. In some of them, it’s almost an “oh well, they’re dead, too bad, so sad.” And in others, the death has much more of a horrific impact.
And it got me to wondering why there was such a difference in impact, and what created it.
Most of it, I think was a difference in staging. In what events were “on stage” when the death occurred. In the ones where the death seemed to hit me less, the main focus of the scene at that moment was not on the death. Other things were going on, and if the death didn’t occur off stage, it was in the background. Then the main character discovered–Oh my goodness! George is dead! (or whoever it was that died). And while there is an aftermath of sadness and shock and such, it still doesn’t seem to have quite the kick that other deaths in other books have.
But in the books where the death was a huge kick in the teeth, the dying was center stage with the hero/heroine fighting desperately to prevent it, or somehow horribly prevented from stopping it. There was anticipation–fear that it would happen, hope that somehow the hero/heroine will be able to stop it–lots of build-up. And when it happens, in a way, you’re prepared for it, even though you were hoping it wouldn’t happen, so it’s still a shock, but you can feel the full impact of the death because its coming was threatened.
Do y’all agree? Disagree? Let me know. One of my main-ish characters is facing death in the next Rose book…and I want everybody to feel every last pang of the dying…