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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Murdering a child...

   
Author Topic: Murdering a child...
Gan
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Killing a sympathetic character near the beginning of a novel. Is it doable?

My story is a revenge story of sorts. I need to show the protagonists world before the change, so that the change can have any meaning.

The incident that causes his change, and his lust for vengeance, is the murder of his son.

Is it better to show less of the son character, so that his sympathetic acts don't make us like him too much (And anger us when he dies)? Or should I work to show off more of the character so that it does matter to us when he dies?

[This message has been edited by Gan (edited July 26, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by Gan (edited July 26, 2010).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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I'd recomend the latter based on what you describe. And its certainly doable. Not all stories are pleasant.
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genevive42
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If you want us to be behind the guy going out for revenge, then make us like his kid and their relationship. We will so want the bad guys to die.
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Tiergan
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I would think the most important thing is to show us the love of the father has for his son. So a little of his son, but more of him and his thoughts/feelings.
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Pyre Dynasty
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If the child's death is so important to the story then we better love that kid. You want to invoke an emotional response.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You might want to be careful about how much of the actual murder you describe, because you might run a risk of making the readers hate you, too.

I'd recommend that you focus on the father-son relationship and on how the death of his son affects the father, and not so much on how the murderers commit the murder.


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skadder
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I murdered (in a story, I add hastily) a young girl (14-15) in one of my early stories. I did it fairly graphically and it turned off quite few readers. I've never revised the story, but if I were to I would tone down the killing.
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Teraen
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The Shack by William P. Young did this well. He references the main character's daughter being killed, without actually describing what occurred at the beginning. Very disturbing, and very effective.
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genevive42
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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman starts with the murder of the child's entire family, including a sibling I believe. It's YA and he handles it well, though it's still not easy.
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axeminister
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I thought the way it was done in Minority Report was excellent. Huge part of the story and when they finally showed the actual scene, it was all implication.

Axe


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JamieFord
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Like everyone else has said, showing the violence probably won't make the reader want justice. Showing the loss of the relationship, the loss of potential, the loss of what that life meant, that's more motivating than the depiction of murder.

You can create some thoroughly unlikable scenes (and characters), but there will always be a price with the reader.

Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews is a book without a single redeeming character. The story is painful, the characters horrible, the writing brilliant...but the book is out of print.


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