These two topics, killing off characters in your work and the amount of reality you need, can each take a half a dozen posts or more, but I was thinking about the intersection of the two.
My writing can be called “speculative fiction”: the majority is science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and horror. Yeah, I’m often working with the supernatural, so how real do I need it? Of course I do put some reality in there to make it easier for the reader to connect, but every day things, like sleeping, eating and using the little boys/girls room is only put in if there is a reason.
My WIP, The Old Mill, is more on the horror end of the urban fantasy-horror spectrum. Not really a “real” genre ;)
About the time I finished my rough draft of The Old Mill, I read a blog post about killing characters in horror. Pretty much the idea was, if people aren’t dying, why would the main character, or the reader, be afraid? Of course you can ask how many people died in the scariest book I ever read, The Shining (not including looking into the past), but that book was written in the 1970s, not the twenty-teens! If you finish the book and six of your eight main characters are still alive, go back and kill four or five of them…
Maybe a little extreme, but she had a point. Continue reading