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Is death essential to good story writing?

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1 Is death essential to good story writing? on Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:35 am

I've wondered about this for a while, even though it's probably been asked a million times before.

Think about it. What was the last GOOD story you read/played/watched/etc. that DID NOT contain the death of at least one significant or influential character?

What's your opinion on it?

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2 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:43 am

Tibor Gánti stated in his "Principles of life" that one of the main eight principles of life is the rule, that an object has to be mortal.
Fiction is about life and thus - about death. The state of terminal sleep is the strongest concept in novels, poems, music, art, thoughout the millenia, stronger than love or happines of human being. That is why death shown in a poetic, dramatic way that is well presented leaves a great impression on us. Thus, in result, it makes even a medicore work somewhat better or even good.

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3 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:36 pm

I don't think a death is necessary to have a good story, else stories like Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland be considered poor ones. Rather, it is a sense of the characters' mortality that's important. No one has to die, but they certainly can be aware that they can die.

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4 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:59 pm

CyberCorn Entropic wrote:I don't think a death is necessary to have a good story, else stories like Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland be considered poor ones. Rather, it is a sense of the characters' mortality that's important. No one has to die, but they certainly can be aware that they can die.
I agree.

It depends of course on the genre of the story and the target audience. Romeo and Juliet, a Shakesperian "Tragi-comedy" ended with the deaths of the protagonists to fulfill the tragedy aspect. The play Macbeth involved the death of several characters, as it was close to what in our modern terms would have been a popular action film.

These days you couldn't have an action movie without at least one death before the film's mid-point in order to highlight the sense of the character's mortality (just as CyberCorn Entropic said).

Many writers however overdo this, and the story becomes little more than repetitive carnage and this actually works against the sense of mortality if the protagonists survive though the hazards unscathed, as if protected by karma or divine intervention.

I don't have a firm opinion on the matter, except to say that the fewer deaths the better and that a better-than-average writer will depict the perils through description or portrayal rather than resorting to the Star Trek "Red Shirt" (AKA "Expendable Ensigns") method. If the intended story is of tragic nature, dark comedy or writen from historic events then that's another matter entirely.

Hope this helps.

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5 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:38 am

Death is really needed in a story, but the possibility of death is a good exception. like in the game mass effect 2 theres the possibilty that a team member of you're group could die because of you're actions, because of this possibilty you become more emotionally involved in preventing said death and in turn you become more involved with the story.

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6 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:22 am

A good story doesn't have to include anything we can think of at all.
There's no real concrete answer to what makes a good story,
but death can be a very good means of getting there sometimes.

Some stories are great because they're not just "realistic,"
they are realistic. A certain story showed this by being willing
to kill off not just any character, but the main character too!

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7 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:07 pm

Game with no death? Pokemon. Seriously. Nobody dies in that game. Death is relevant in the case of Lavender Town/Towers tat have dead things in them and along with ghost Pokemon and Marowak's sadness... but no death at all.

Granted it is a kid's ga- oh wait, college adults are more into it than kids are anyways.

Another one? Mario. No main character dies. They are just defeated. Hell, even Bowser has been resurrected dozens of times!

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8 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:52 am

Pokemon and Mario have a GREAT storylines indeed... Very Happy

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9 Re: Is death essential to good story writing? on Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:07 am

Generally when I write something my characters prefer not to die.
Especially if I am using my friends as templates...

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