Now generally I give you pieces of my work in progress but I thought I would comment about this bit of writing. A lot of times when a writer receives reviews one of the things that are complained about is the amount of death in the novel. Now if you think about it writing in these two genres you should expect some. After all quite often these are strongly action/adventure tales with wars or monsters that must be fought and defeated. Expecting every character, no matter how minor, to survive is more a faerie tale than a Disney movie.

Now looking over my novels, I thought it might be a good idea to count up the number of good guys versus bad guys who don’t make it to the end of the novel. The numbers are of course no where near the numbers you get in the average George RR Martin book, but they are not non-existent.

Starting with Endings, the one I have gotten nasty emails about over the past decade it has been up in some form on the net I had six good guys and none of the bad guys going down. Now for a novella length piece this might seem like a lot, but I remind you that this is a dark fantasy piece. In dark fantasy you have to expect character death. From the death of the main character’s parents to losing four of the characters who went on the rescue mission, the deaths were just a part of the story.

Now the biggest complaint was that I had one killed during a battle in a way that one reader said was too offhand and random. Lets understand folks that people die and not every death will be plotted and significant. They happen and being in the middle of a random battle of swords, well things happen. The other death that bugged people was the death of a character off screen. I felt at the time that there was enough on screen violence and did not want to write of a character taking their own life to get away from torture on screen.

When I moved onto the sequel to Endings, Revenge, the numbers change. In this book there was only really one character death on the good guy side. It was an important one of course and to be clear there were a number of important bad guys that bit it in Revenge. From the madams that owned Loralil to the snake mage, I think I dealt with those deaths well.

Moving from those two dark fantasy novels let look at my attempt in the end of the world novel style. Fall Into Nightmares is of course dark and filled with monsters, so there has to be death right? When not counting the unnamed monsters and people who of course are fodder I have a relatively small dead count. With four named characters on the good guy side and three on the bad guy. Now in dark urban end of the world fiction death is not always the end of a character as we know. From the death of the sensei to the final heroic death of the Native american lawyer, each one was important in what happened and motivating the other characters to become heroes.

In To Save Face or Family things were a bit different. More of a spy fantasy in my head, while there was a lot of violence, dark dealings and prophecies, there was not as many character deaths. Only One really died on the good guy side and a few more on the bad guys. This novel dealt more with legends and myths than death.

The Traveler was a typical fantasy. With mostly the bad guys dying and true love conquering all the deaths don’t come till the last chapter. I hope I made them the way people understood. For sacrifice was important to the tale.

And finally for Escape, my science fiction tale. I had only a few deaths in this novel. Bad guys got what they deserved and the good guys survive.

So while character deaths are controversial with many readers, we need to look at the story over all. If you are expecting a fantasy to be light and Disney like…then you are not reading my work.

Whether a character dies as a plot device, a grand sacrifice or simple for being in the wrong place, they happen in both fantasy and science fiction. As a writer you need to weigh the effect that having a good or bad guy die on the story and not so much on the reader. As a reader we have to realize that death is always a part of the story. Death makes the story deeper and more real, when done well.

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