Update Schedule

There was once an update schedule. It lived a good life, a peaceful life. A quiet life. But then... things began to change. It became more and more erratic, sometimes completely disobeying its very reason for existance. And at last, the update schedule could take no more. It cast off its chains and went free, seeking new lands where it would be appreciated. This message it left where once it had lived, to warn other schedules of the peril.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why do they never stay dead?

Please note: this post does contain spoilers to popular book series such as Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire. Mostly minor, but read with caution.

Hi, I'm back. I have a new powercord, and I will finish taking notes on the book I'm currently reading and review it soon. I took a detour for the Stormlight Archives, but I just finished the most recent one, so I'm back to this.

So... this is a bit of a rant. It's been annoying me for a very long time. Characters just do not stay dead. It's ridiculous. It's gotten to the point where I'm not even upset if a character dies. If they come back, I knew they would, and if they don't, at least they had the grace to actually die.
As mentioned above, I've been reading the Stormlight Archives, by Brandon Sanderson. Each of the two books that are out are over 1,000 pages long, so I decided against a dedicated review. For the record, they were pretty good, and Brandon Sanderson is awesome (his Alcatraz Smedry series is worth checking out for younger readers, although be warned that the series is unfinished, probably permanently). However, I don't think a single main character (and several minor ones) has actually died. (That's not fair. They die a lot. They just come back.)
Oh, and on the off-chance that someone really important is reading this, they'd make great movies.
My favorite character died, and I barely cared. I knew she'd be back- that's how books work (she was, although she took an annoyingly long time about it). Character deaths aren't shocking anymore. There are so many false deaths that even the real ones lose meaning. Even when someone pulls a Veronica Roth (she pulled out at the last second and didn't quite complete her culling of all known characters) or a George R.R. Martin (whose reputation is rather unfounded; aside from the Ned Stark thing he really does Disney-death quite a lot), it's still only marginally better. There's no sense of balance anymore. Either all the characters die or none of them do. Some try a J.K Rowling and kill off some but not all, but even then people are annoyed because they wanted a certain character to live or die.

Lupin didn't even get an on-screen death? Seriously?

We're so used to characters coming back that we're upset instead of grateful when they don't. All sense of connection is lost, because we know our hero will either be just fine or die a suitable heroic death. No one just dies.
And yes, that's important in writing. I mean, no one wanted LOTR to end with Frodo just giving up and letting Sauron win, right? Even though I'd predicted the ending from a long way off (admittedly through the movies, but it was still a pretty impressive feat), the ending still carried some weight. Boromir couldn't have just tripped and fallen off a cliiff. Meaningless deaths are no better than false ones.

Seriously, J.K. Rowling? A magic death curtain?

But what about suitably dramatic exits? Isn't Dumbledore's death worth something? Isn't it the best option to go out in a blaze of glory? The answer is yes, to an extent. The important thing is not to overuse. Some go out in a blaze of glory. Some return. Some just randomly die off-screen. But you need to keep it balanced, so the reader doesn't know what to expect. Don't just keep repeating yourself. Do something unexpected every once in a while. Use the usual tricks too- keep the reader on their toes. Don't become predictable.

And finally... is anyone reading this? I see the views, so surely someone has looked at it, but no comments on how terrible it is or anything. I'd appreciate some sign that you exist.

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