Sometimes I think myself a terrible person. As a writer, I have an overload of characters to use in various stories, and sometimes I get a little overwhelmed. That’s when I pick a name at random from my mind, connect a personality to it, and introduce the new character to the story.
And then I kill them.
That’s right, I introduce them and either a chapter or two later, or maybe even just a couple scenes later, I kill them off. Sometimes I feel bad about it, especially if one of my main characters had a past attachment to them or gain a new one during the short time that character is in the story. But most of the time it just feels nice to open up some room in my mind.
I had a character named Chad form in my mind. He was a high-school football star, as well as the son of the mayor. He was Mr. Perfect in every way except one; he had contributed to the death of his best friend. The story of that death was plaguing me to write, but I was in the middle of a story and didn’t want to take the time to write a second. So what did I do? I tossed poor Chad and his story line into the story I was currently working on, made him get cozy with one of main characters, then killed him once the truth of his past came out.
I really felt bad about it, if only for what it did to my poor main character’s mentality (not that it was all that stable in the first place). But at the same time, there was relief. I had managed to, in a way, write Chad’s story without deviating from the current writing flow I had been stuck in.
A lot of the books I have read, or television shows I have watched, have similar characters. A man brings a box to the main character in a book, saying it can only be opened if he delivers a message. That character dies only a few pages later, and the box opens, not revealing the drug the man was told was there but something a lot less appealing. A woman, a werewolf, is introduced on a tv show. One of the main characters falls for her not knowing she is a werewolf. When he finds out, he has already begun to love her. He and his brother are forced to kill her because it is their job. It happens everywhere, and it kind of makes me feel better about not being the only writer who creates characters just to kill them.
Sometimes, they’re just fodder.
I’ve honestly lost track of how many characters I’ve used as fodder. That could be a good thing, I guess, though it could also bring me right back to the heartless comment…
How many characters have you used for fodder? Do you remember any of them specifically? How does it make you feel, knowing that the character you are introducing, possibly making the readers fall in love with, is someone you plan to kill off very soon?