I don’t watch The Walking Dead, (spoiler ahead) but apparently a beloved character was killed off this week. I know this because people were up in arms on social media.
The unexpected death of a main character is not as surprising as it used to be years ago. So many shows, movies, and books have taken to killing off the main characters well before the end of the story. Some characters meet their demise at the height of their popularity in the (seemingly) middle of a really cool plot line.
Good writing requires a murderous hand. Writers have to kill off sentences, phrases, chapters, and characters we love, all in the interest of the story. ‘Kill your darlings’ is what we’re taught.
One by one I am killing my darlings, writing beloved characters out of my life story; the cynic, the beer drinker, the choco-holic, the runner, the panicked worrier, the brown haired girl. They’ve been written out. They can be resurrected of course, like Bobby in Dallas, but for now, they’re gone.
Imagine all of the characters you have played in your long life story. Some of them have been written out already. Some of them were killed off for good.
Imagine which of the current players you might write out.
You could write the worrier out of your story, or the smoker. Write out the procrastinator or the alcohol user. Kill off the control freak. Erase the neurotic. Write out the doormat, the couch potato. Do away with the workaholic. Kill off the victim, the drama queen, the hot head, the perfectionist.
They can leave temporarily for a new job opportunity, or to go to college. They can die quickly with a bat to the head. Or fade away slowly, from some blood borne disease, after one Make-a-wish last fling.
You can do it, because you’re the writer. You know them best. You know all of their flaws. You can cut them off at the Achilles heel.
They are all going to be dead some day any way. ‘Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything’. Why not let them die right now? Give yourself a chance to play another part.
Write them out before the next episode. Do it in the interest of the story.
Good living takes a murderous hand. Kill a few of your darlings.
It’ll be epic.
The Misfits Die, Die My Darling