Death scenes

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Dakishimete
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Death scenes

#1 Post by Dakishimete » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:01 pm

Problem with the death scenes is to not overdo it. When should I stop? Considering the fact that the dying person is a close person to the main character. How many people can die, so every death would seem tragic? How long should it take for the main character to recover from the shock and pain to make it seem natural, yet not irritate the players by characters crying?

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Re: Death scenes

#2 Post by yukipon » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:04 pm

Dakishimete wrote:Problem with the death scenes is to not overdo it. When should I stop?
When you find that it is necessary to stop, or when it becomes ridiculously excessive to the point of parody.

Like, Kenny in South Park.
Dakishimete wrote:Considering the fact that the dying person is a close person to the main character. How many people can die, so every death would seem tragic?
This is both a story and a character question, but I'll only address the character part of it since it's more important.

For sake of brevity, "faceless, character-less" character(s) dying have little to no impact, while "established, sympathetic" character(s) carry greater tragic "value".

For example, the neighbor next door who the protagonist describes versus the childhood friend who the protagonist establishes a relationship with. The neighbor is "faceless" as far as the reader is concerned, so if "it" dies, the reader doesn't care; however, the childhood friend is a "person" to the reader, so his/her death will carry significance and tragic value. How much tragic value they have is determined by how well established and developed the character is when they die.

Two anime examples: Shirley in Code Geass and Kamina in Gurren Lagann.

Also, there's the awesome factor to take into account too. ^^

As for the actual number of people dying, this is answered by, "What kind of story are you writing?"
Dakishimete wrote:How long should it take for the main character to recover from the shock and pain to make it seem natural, yet not irritate the players by characters crying?
IMO, this is really hard to judge as it depends on your reader's expectations and the character in question. Best way to do it, I think, is to make the suffering and grief relevant to the protagonist's development and/or the circumstance at hand, then cutting it at that point with a transition scene(s) to make it natural.

For example, if someone significant dies in a car accident related to the protagonist, the protagonist's suffering must develop him in some way, either expected or unexpected. Therefore, time is warranted for the protagonist to recover while he/she finds the meaning of life/death/past/memories/some obscure reference/whatever that's important to the story. Here, circumstance allows for the character to "emo" all they want.

But if that significant someone dies in a battlefield, it'd be really stupid for the protagonist to suddenly stop fighting in order to spend time grieving over it, unless it's part of their character. They may end up making mistakes or costing additional lives because of such hesitation or recklessness. Here, circumstance does not allow the character to be "emo", but can be shown in their resulting actions.

There are a lot more examples I could make up on the spot, but it's basically a teeter-totter of reader expectation and character development. Finding the right balance is key.
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Re: Death scenes

#3 Post by sciencewarrior » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:16 pm

Frankly, this is a situation in which there isn't a happy balance that will satisfy everyone. Some people will play your game after a recent loss and will find your character insensitive. Others, mostly young males who never lost anyone close, will say he is a whiny emo. So, really, do what feels right. Just listen to your character, and he will tell you when he's ready to move on.
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Re: Death scenes

#4 Post by Sapphi » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:54 pm

sciencewarrior wrote:Frankly, this is a situation in which there isn't a happy balance that will satisfy everyone. Some people will play your game after a recent loss and will find your character insensitive. Others, mostly young males who never lost anyone close, will say he is a whiny emo. So, really, do what feels right. Just listen to your character, and he will tell you when he's ready to move on.
This is really true. You know how everybody complains about how much they hate Shinji Ikari from Evangelion because he is a spineless crybaby? On my first watch-through, that thought never entered my mind. I didn't particularly like Shinji, but I didn't hate him, even though he was angsting about everything. I thought his reactions were pretty natural, to be quite honest... (But maybe it's because I'm just like him... :oops: )
Dakishimete wrote:How many people can die, so every death would seem tragic? How long should it take for the main character to recover from the shock and pain to make it seem natural, yet not irritate the players by characters crying?
I would say kill off your characters in order from Least Likeable to Most Likeable if you want to keep the tears a'flowin'. (Jeez, I can't believe I write such terrible things.)

As for recovery... you don't really ever fully recover from a big loss, do you? You just rationalize it in your head, and try not to spend too much time thinking about it or you'll get sad again. The rationalizing is key: you can be happy again because "At least she had a great life" or "At least I was with her when she went" or at the very least "At least she isn't in pain anymore." Thinking about someone who is no longer with you is always painful and your character will look like a heartless jerk if he forgets that pain too easily. You character will, on the flip side, look emo if he is not trying to be happy again and saying "at least" and only crying constantly about the loss.

Basically, if your character is at least trying to be optimistic, I won't mind if he breaks down (I will actually feel very bad for him) but if he isn't even trying, he will probably start to annoy me.
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Re: Death scenes

#5 Post by Gear » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:38 pm

I mentioned something similar to this in another thread a while back. If you've built both characters from the ground up, and given them full backstories, personalities, and adversities to overcome, then this won't be too difficult to do. Granted, you'll still probably want someone to read over it, but ultimately, it depends on the character. Look at Batman - his whole life is driven by his parents' death. Yet for other characters and some people in real life, with time, they eventually overcome. A good baseline is how well your character can let go. However, if the one who dies is extremely close to the main character, it would normally take years for them to get over it, at minimum, in my opinion.
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Re: Death scenes

#6 Post by Cochise » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:17 pm

Deaths are great. Do it.
But... do with class and moderation.

Puella magi Madoka kill a character after three episodes showing how adorable and cuteness she is. and it's add A LOT of wight to the future choices of main characters.

Persona 4 kill a adorable character at the almost ending of the history, make a really sad chapter with strong scenes of despair and guilty.
[And resurrect them without a single explain, making you fell cheated and angry.]
One or two deaths, with a good background, of a character who the player (not only the character) likes is good. But not only kill, explore the post death time.
A frequent massacre without reflexing pauses is boring.

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Re: Death scenes

#7 Post by LVUER » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:57 pm

According to my knowledge and personal experience, this is what you should avoid when creating a death scene (or kill your character), whether it's important to the plot or not :
1. Don't kill to simplify plot or provide some cheap escapes. Do you know the easiest way to solve a love triangle? Kill one of the girl/boy, viola, instant conclusion.
2. Don't kill your character simply to become a tear-bender... I mean to squeeze some tears from your readers. Some readers are smart and will notice this, and could end up hating your works.
3. Please don't kill lots of your character just because you are under stress? Yoshiyuki Tomino "Kill 'em All" is the most perfect example of such person (V Gundam, Brain Powered, Ideon). You could easily read his mood simply by looking on how many people (major characters) die at the end of the story.
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Re: Death scenes

#8 Post by pucedragonlord » Sun May 13, 2012 9:41 am

How many people can die, so every death would seem tragic? How long should it take for the main character to recover from the shock and pain to make it seem natural, yet not irritate the players by characters crying?
Honestly, just one. After the first death, the rest have much less impact, no matter how important or developed the characters are. Sometimes you can get away with two, but after that readers will start expecting your characters to die, and sure characters they like dying is sad, but they'll know it's coming. The Madoka and Persona examples are great ones, as are the deaths of major characters in
Gurren Lagan
and
Macross Frontier
, but all of these examples have one thing in common: only one person dies.
How long should it take for the main character to recover from the shock and pain to make it seem natural
It's true, you never really recover. Some stories are based entirely around this fact. Ever heard of Monk? American mystery show about a detective with OCD? The whole point was that the protagonist is recovering from the death of his wife, sure he has other problems, but they're not the root of the story. In (same as the first spoiler
Gurren Lagan, the death is never forgotten by the characters and several episodes are spent in mourning before the protagonist can move on, and he doesn't do it alone
.

So the answer: what feels right for your character. If you don't plan on getting rich off this story (and you never should, we're talking about fiction here), it's not about what makes the reader happy, it's about what makes the writer happy, or perhaps sad, in this case.

Also, I agree, death is great--it really messes people up. Makes them think about things they didn't want to think about, and they can't try and change it like most other kinds of loss.
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Re: Death scenes

#9 Post by eternalwishess » Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:11 pm

Personally, I think you should only kill off characters if they heavily impact the storyline.
Two or three seem reasonable, but only if the time span in between all of their deaths is huge. Multiple character deaths = unnecessary.
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Re: Death scenes

#10 Post by Guerin78 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:30 pm

eternalwishess wrote:Multiple character deaths = unnecessary.
Once the body count starts rising, the impact of the deaths in themselves is minimal. But that doesn't mean they're unnecessary. They can set the tone of the story, help to establish the theme, or to demonstrate the consequences if the protagonist fails (or sometimes, in the case of tragedy, if the protagonist succeeds.)

A great example is The Matrix: of the crew of the ship when Neo is freed from the Matrix, five of nine are dead by the midpoint of the movie: Mouse, Apoc, Switch, Dozer, and Cypher. The effects on the survivors are mostly glossed over, but that's not the point--the point is to establish the Agents' capabilities (Mouse), to resolve the betrayal subplot (Dozer and Cypher), and to foreshadow a later situation where Neo risks death (Apoc and Switch).

Horror stories do this almost universally. Fear of death is one of the strongest and most basic fears we have as humans, and one of the best ways to make the audience afraid for the protagonist is to show people dying horribly, and then put the protagonist up against whatever killed them, whether that's a human killer, or an eldritch abomination, or a viral pandemic.

In short, killing off multiple characters has a much different impact than killing only one or two, and is done for different reasons.

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Re: Death scenes

#11 Post by Enigma » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:27 am

eternalwishess wrote:Personally, I think you should only kill off characters if they heavily impact the storyline.
Two or three seem reasonable, but only if the time span in between all of their deaths is huge. Multiple character deaths = unnecessary.
Not eactly, I still shed tears for Kakyoin in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure even though Iggy and Abdul died not to long before. You can kill as many characters as you want, but it depends on the type of story. The darker the plot, the more characters you can kill off.

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Re: Death scenes

#12 Post by eternalwishess » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:06 am

...You guys made good points there. OTL|||
I need to read up on more stories and analyze each of them in depth.
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Re: Death scenes

#13 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:35 am

Don't forget George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" (currently on TV as "Game of Thrones"), a series of fantasy novels that is notorious for killing off everybody you think the story wouldn't work without. Really, read it - even though the head count is high, a great many deaths are significant, and Martin does a splendid job of conveying that.
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Re: Death scenes

#14 Post by eternalwishess » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:07 am

Taleweaver wrote:Don't forget George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" (currently on TV as "Game of Thrones"), a series of fantasy novels that is notorious for killing off everybody you think the story wouldn't work without. Really, read it - even though the head count is high, a great many deaths are significant, and Martin does a splendid job of conveying that.
I mean, I've read Battle Royale (similar to the Hunger Games, although I haven't read The Hunger Games yet), and I found it really gruesome the way people died and such. However, as the story went on, I eventually became desensitized to the deaths of the students. They didn't appear as surprising to me anymore and it was obvious that almost everybody was going to die in the story anyway. Knowing that just ruins a part of the fun in the book.
When I read a story, I like it when a death scene is unpredictable to the point where it shocks the readers because they never saw it coming. Too many deaths, even if they are a part of how the story should be, seems really... I don't know, it makes the author appear sadistic? Wasteful? .-. I can't think of a word that accurately describes how I feel about this.
Although this is just my opinion.
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Re: Death scenes

#15 Post by Vegeluxia » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:51 am

Guerin78 wrote:The darker the plot, the more characters you can kill off.
I have to agree here. If a story takes place during an event such as a war, I’d expect character deaths.
eternalwishess wrote:However, as the story went on, I eventually became desensitized to the deaths of the students. They didn't appear as surprising to me anymore and it was obvious that almost everybody was going to die in the story anyway. Knowing that just ruins a part of the fun in the book.
Again, if the story took place during something like a war, lots of character deaths could be very effective. If the deaths were on the enemy's side, it could create a sense of victory or power. If they deaths were on your side, it could cause sadness, fear, or concern.

Since you know the book is about a war, you’d most likely expect death, but the deaths that do occur don’t make the story any less exciting. You never know who's going to win.

I read a book for school once, "My Brother Sam is Dead". Once you see that Sam is alive at the start of the book very obviously you know that he is going to die at some point, but the book is still interesting. What makes it interesting is
the plot twist at the end. Sam is a soldier, so the entire book you expect him to die in battle, but he is instead accused of stealing his own livestock and is hanged.
eternalwishess wrote:When I read a story, I like it when a death scene is unpredictable to the point where it shocks the readers because they never saw it coming. Too many deaths, even if they are a part of how the story should be, seems really... I don't know, it makes the author appear sadistic? Wasteful? .-. I can't think of a word that accurately describes how I feel about this.
Unpredictable deaths can be both good and bad. If a character suddenly jumps in front of someone else to protect them and then dies, I might find that effective. If they just randomly got hit by a car, I’d probably be annoyed. For both of those things to work well, I guess it has to make sense.

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