I’ve asked a few people recently about their experience of the killing off characters in their roleplay, and have got some great snippets which I’ll publish here on the blog. I know it’s a morbid topic, but quite an interesting one! Here’s an article sent to me by Xexes from RPG-Directory:
Tell the reader why they should care
Emphasize in your writing what was so special about their life, perhaps mentioning some brief key scenes. Does this make a difference in the story? Mention that too. What about others they were close to? What about how they’ve developed as a character? Will others miss them? What kind of legacy will they leave? All of this has the potential to be a novel chapter in and of itself, but concise mentions can give your story the grace it needs without extra length that might intimidate readers.
Do your research
Death has the potential to be a touchy subject because everyone has been affected by it in some way or another. Cancer-ridden people don’t suddenly violently explode. Alzheimers doesn’t mean happy-go-lucky. If your writing is wildly inaccurate, you will probably offend someone who was close to such an event. So by doing your research, you approach the subject respectfully and tastefully.
Short and sweet
You don’t have to go on and on about the light at the end of the tunnel, how many heartbeats they had each minute till death, or all the flashbacks of all their life. We human beings have tricky attention spans, so be concise. This is one place that a single line can be far more effective than a couple paragraphs.
Connect with others
People tend to be self-centered, so why not connect with others to make your story have more emphasis and meaning by having other players play a hand in it? For example, perhaps someone reads their last rites, perhaps someone performs a failed heimlich, and so on and so forth. Writing is all about a collaborative story. Give those other players a story, too, and because they are involved, the death will have more meaning.
Communicate what you’re doing
When your character dies, there’s much room for fellow players to be concerned about you as a writer. Communicate with them to let them know if you are staying or not, or if you have other characters lined up. This especially true if you have only a couple characters.
Thanks Xexes for sharing your wisdom! I’ll be posting other articles about character death here.