Yesterday I Killed a Man

...and I did it before breakfast.

He's not the first man I've killed, and he won't be the last. As they say in certain areas of Texas - He needed killin'. So he had to go.

His name was Eddie, and he died on page 27.

He was a small-time hood who tried to use his muscle to better himself. He tried it with the wrong man.

That's the story version of why he died. The writer version of why he died was to show the ruthlessness of the man who killed him.

I knew all along that Eddie would buy the farm, but I originally wrote his death off the page. This time I wrote it in real story time.

His actual murder took place over six lines. But as always happens when I kill a character, it took me several days to complete the scene.


Because it takes me a while to come to grips with the fact that I'm taking a life. Even though it's only the life of a character, not a real person.

So call me weird.

I procrastinate, find reasons not to write, do anything and everything to avoid typing the words. Then finally the day comes. The day when I wake up in the morning and say, "Today I'm killing him."

That day was yesterday. I pulled the trigger during my second cup of coffee.

I don't know if I'm the only writer who hesitates before killing a character. I just know that it has always been this way for me. I guess I grieve before I kill.

Maybe it's because a character can't return from the dead. Unless you write horror. Or urban fantasy. Or soap operas.

Or unless you undertake a rewrite and decide not to kill him. Or her.


Mark Troy said…
He's really not dead until the book is published. Until then, you can change your mind or bring him back from the dead. That's what I like about writing and what I hate about publishing. Once published, there are no take backs.
Carol Kilgore said…
Mark, have you ever brought a character back to life?

I never have. Yet.
Mark Troy said…
Yes. I wrote one story where a minor character died early. Later on, I decided I wanted that character to continue so I changed it so he didn't die. After a couple more revisions, he was out of the story completely only to appear in a different story later on.

He's still alive, though I don't have plans for him to appear in any future stories.
Carol Kilgore said…

I wonder if I'd have as much trouble bringing someone back to life as I do killing them off.