Oops! Just Killed A Friend

Wow! Killing a friend ain’t easy. You think you’re ready for it. You have planned the dramatic demise, executed to perfection, but when it gets right down to it, it is soooo hard.

And when they are lying there dead, with an arrow though their heart, or an axe wound in their head, you think you can just walk away. But what do you still have to do?

Press the Save button.

Haldir – too noble for our times.

Do you get the irony? Your friend lies dead on the page, their blood still wet, and you are totally responsible for it. Sure you didn’t wield the axe, or aim the bow, but you created this person, this character, this hero.

He trusted you, allowed you to move him from one part of the kingdom to the other. He has seen you put him in a tight jam and always something happens to get him out of it in the nick of time. He never complained.

Except this time he is dead. You killed him and now he glares at you from the computer screen.


Brom – never got over the loss of his dragon.

And you walk around in a daze. What made you do it? Why? For the glory? So that the reader would say: “Wow I never thought he would dare…” And you know you will have to face your writers group next week with this and get flayed. They loyally listened to your manuscript week after week, growing to love your characters, buying into your plot, and now you do this to them!


He hasn’t gone you know, not really. A knock on the door, a guy at the gym with the same tattoo, a person who bumps shoulders on the busy train platform. Your eyes meet fleetingly and you look away, guilty, ashamed. How could you have done that?

You killed a good friend, one who let you create them. And now you are going to expect the other characters in the story to trust you? Beware my friend. You never can be sure just how the next chapter will end.


I simply could never accept this. Destroyed my childhood innocence and I’m in my 40’s!

Good Writing,


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first reached the Quarter Finals of  the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as of March 2012. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

13 comments on “Oops! Just Killed A Friend

  1. I feel your pain! I have a character slated for destruction before the end. He has had a hard life and deserves better than what I have in mind for him…
    C’est la vie, my friend. STORY is a demanding mistress!

  2. elveswriter says:

    And when you mess with a mistress, someone always gets hurt! Have a great weekend, friend.

  3. Dear Elveswriter, Congrats in placing so high in the Amazon contest. I have two YA’s set against the background of Coral Cove, a fictitious Greek sponge fishing village on the West Coast of Florida that I’m trying to sell. Love San Francisco. Have a good friend, Peggy, who’s a psychologist I used as a minor character in See Mommy Run. Laura

  4. Elli Comeau says:

    My characters or rather their stories tend to drive me there a lot. I do enjoy doing that to them though – as much as it hurts me too. I had to kill my favorite character, who had gone through three books with my heroes. I miss him very much, but it had to be. I don’t decide what happens. My characters do….

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  9. Stian Lavik says:

    An interesting point, though, is how a book allows for more remote characters than a movie. And I find that the story typically becomes richer from a greater selection of persons. Haldir should of course not been killed off in the movies, as he had another much more important task than coming to the Aud of men at Helms Deep in the book. He was charged with the defense of Lorien, and he the reader never gets as attached to him in the book as in the movies.

    Still, the pointed in this article are valid, and I find it a good read.

  10. Reblogged this on Helen Henderson, Author and commented:
    I hadn’t thought of this before. Usually I kill the bad guy and only torture the hero. The post is true. It explains why we mourne for our characters. Even if they live in the book, at the end we close the chapter.

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