How To Write The Death Of A Character (12 Tips)

In this post, we discuss several tips on how to write the death of a character.

12 Tips on How to Write The Death Of A Character

The following tips tell you how to write the death of a character and other ways you can go about it:

1. Death Doesn't Have to Be a Big Deal

The death of a character doesn't have to be an entire spectacle. Most times, a prominent character doesn't even have to die to get the outcry you want to get from your audience.

Instead of actually dying, a character can be leaving to another land, get kidnapped and lose their memory, or quit their job to be with their family.

The idea is that the beloved character is not actually dead, but instead, they are no longer going to be part of the story in a very real and permanent way.

In other words, you can present a "spiritual passing" as opposed to a literal death.

2. Give him strong relationships with others.

If you want a death to be very impactful, give them a reason to be emotionally invested in the dying character through other members of the cast.

For example, when you show how the dying character has positively impacted the other characters, you can't help but find the dying character more likable. You don't want them to die because it feels like they don't deserve it.

Another scenario is where all the characters blame each other for a character's death. Or draw attention to unfulfilled promises.

You can also make a surviving character distraught at the death of their best friend.

It's these connections between characters that make a character's death that much more impactful.

3. Kill a Lone Wolf the Right Way

A lone wolf tends to be a misunderstood character who rarely gets a chance to shine in the spotlight.

There are a few different approaches to killing a lone wolf. You can make their death sad because the audience is blatantly aware of the loneliness they endured. Or you can make them absolutely adored, yet underrated. Or hated, and so ignored.

4. Don't let them die of old age.

Dying of old age is a peaceful, and somewhat boring death. This is not how you want your most interesting characters to die unless you're planning to end your story on that note.

5. Unfulfilled Tasks.

You can have a character die while they are leaving a task unfulfilled. For example, a sensei dies in battle before his student got a chance to accept an honor the following day. This is devastating if the sensei had promised to be the one to bestow the honor upon their student since the beginning of their training.

The more passionately the dying character wanted to fulfill their task, the more impactful the death will have on the audience's emotions.

6. Loss of Potential

It's sad when a character dies when they still had room to grow.

For example, an incredibly selfish woman dies performing her first impactful selfless act. This shows a massive loss of potential the character could've had in the story—given the audience was able to connect with the character in the first place.


7. Fight to the Death

Everybody loves a fight to the death. Especially if the character is dying for something they truly believe in.

8. Give The Audience The Chance to Connect

Make sure your character has had enough time to form an emotional connection with the audience. You do this by making the character relatable.

You always have to do this to have an impactful death the audience will emotionally respond to.

9. Have loyal pets perish

Pets, such as dogs, are easily empathized with and can get an audience teared up. Especially if the pet was a loyal companion to a major character in the story.

10. Do it slowly and painfully.

Your character is on the ground, writhing in pain. He is in terrible agony but unable to call for help. For whatever reason. He's dying very slowly, maybe even close to his group, but no one can help him because he's all out of breath.

11. Show the other side.

Show the dying character's true colors when they're dying. Allow them to be vulnerable. No more hiding behind their mask.

Let the bravest character admit that he's always been scared, but his need to know that his comrades are safe is more important than any fear he's had.

Or you can have a character profess their love to another character because seeing death's door has given them the courage to be honest.

12. Death is in the Details

It's the details that break the audience's heart. It is not the dying character's failure to breathe that causes us to sob. It's when the audience notices the character's chest rising and falling more slowly. It is not the fact that someone is crying that destroys the reader, but the way he speaks his last words to the dying relative, with trembling lips and how helpless they are in holding back their tears.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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