Roaring Redwoods: Killing People

LC_TheRoaringRedwoods_ep7b-3(This post contains some SPOILERS. I’ve left out names but there are enough identifiers to qualify as TMI if you haven’t read through episode 6 yet.)

Given the nature of the story and lives led in The Roaring Redwoods, I knew people were going to die. I planned two, but a few others surprised me along the way.

With one character, who was pretty much an awful person from the beginning, I looked forward to killing him off. I wrote him as bad as he was because I knew he would get his just desserts in the end. My only regret was he wasn’t brought to justice for his role in an earlier death. His first terrible act was only possible because I knew there would be some kind of justice in the end. In fact, I looked forward to killing him so much that I had a few different ways to do it.

I went with alcohol-poisoning, but there were other viable options. One popular notion was to have one of the redwoods fall on him.

Another character whose death was planned from the beginning turned out to be so endearing that I stopped writing to see if I could rework the story to save him. But it wasn’t meant to be. I still miss him.

And before the episodes are finished, a few more people have to go. (Feel free to make any guesses in the comments.)

Something that hasn’t happened before, I had a death planned for the story that will NOT happen. I won’t write the character or the story. It is too dark and I just won’t go there. In the real Brookdale Lodge (inspiration for Riverwood) a young child drowned in the creek. It is widely rumored the girl’s ghost haunts the lodge. Abstractly, this was an interesting story, but I just can’t kill a little kid.

I am not so entrenched in the fictional world that I don’t understand these are not REAL people, but as I try to do my job to communicate a story that will provoke real emotion, I write with real emotion.

In one of my contemporary novels (coming out in Summer 2015!), I killed a wonderful character. I mean, wonderful. I was in a coffee shop when it happened and I started crying. I left quickly to avoid any awkward encounters with mental health officials.

But the fictional world is as murderous as I get. Lucky for some.

As a reader- how do you respond to characters’ deaths?

As a writer- how are your “killer” instincts?