Monday, June 8, 2020

Only a Conversation Writers Should Have

As a writer, I suggest you kill all your characters. All of them. Sit down, and in one setting, write the demise of Every. Single. Character.

"No! I love them too much. And besides, it's not a very nice thing to do."

I understand.

Yet, I suggest you create a death scenario or two for each and every person in your manuscript. You may decide not to kill them. But have a plan in your back pocket to kill them. Why?

—The possibility of their death as you write heightens the tension in your novel, no matter the genre. From a woman finding a career to a man finding love, the reminder that characters could croak at any time heightens the stakes and gives your work more rounded pictures of the future.

For example, if Kelly loves a man, but you as the author have, in the back of your mind, the possibility that her office building burns and she can’t escape the 8th floor, there’s something about the potential of her death that gives the love greater immediacy and importance that will naturally appear in your writing. Otherwise, the stakes are simply immediate and have no imagination outside of her relationship’s toss-and-turns.

—The possibility of their death will help you work through writer’s block.

For example, if you’re struggling with the plotline, set the manuscript aside and work on killing them all. From poison to drownings to horrible dismemberments to natural causes, you’ll get your creative juices flowing again.

—The possibility of their death may change your plotline.

For example, you may realize that it’s not only excessive words in your sentences you need to cut. It’s characters.

Take some time and kill all your characters, and you’ll find the possibilities for plotlines, tension, and well…fun will enhance your manuscript.

I sense this is a conversation only fiction writers can get away with.

What do you think?

Any creative, fictitious ways to kill off a character? How about getting crushed by a stack of library books.

I suggest you have a plan that kills off every character in manuscript, and here's why— #seriouslywrite @peterleavell #writerstip

Peter Leavell, a 2007/2020 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and a MA in English Literature, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author, along with multiple other awards. An author, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at