Part of the reason I love to read romance is because, by definition of the genre, you get a happily ever after. You know there will be a hero and heroine in conflict, but regardless of what that conflict is you know they will get together in the end. And the greater the conflict, the more a reader loves it because you know it has to be resolved somehow.
Not all books that have romance in them are considered the romance genre. Let’s look at Nicholas Sparks. Most of his books, perhaps all of them, have romance in them. But, most of them have some tragedy as well. People die. People we learned to care for. For whatever reason, books like that tend to be considered more “literary” because, well, I don’t know. It’s not like we learned something. We all know tragedy happens. We all know horrible things happen to good people. But, for some reason, when a character dies and there’s loads of tragedy, it’s “literary fiction”. Now, I’m not knocking Nicholas Sparks. I adored The Notebook because to me, even though the end was sad, it was a love story to the very end.
If I read thrillers or horror or fantasy I realize characters I invest my time and heart into may die. I know that because those genres make that acceptable. If you watch Game of Thrones you know just how expendable even the most loved character can be.
I’ve always thought I’d be a romance writer. Primarily because that’s what I love to read. I read other stuff, but romance has always been a part of my life since I was fourteen years old and discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss. I have always loved historical romance and am thrilled to know Lisa Kleypas is writing historicals again! Then I found paranormal romance with Christine Feehan and Laurell K. Hamilton (early years of Anita Blake). Then it was thrillers. I was reading horror starting at age nine. Graham Masterton’s The Manitou scared the living daylights out of me. I had to read more!! Stephen King’s The Stand is still in my top 10 of all time favorite books. I don’t read as much horror anymore because I just haven’t found someone I really liked until recently when I discovered Jonathan Maberry. His Rot & Ruin series is one of the best written books I’ve ever read regardless of genre.
Now, if Lisa Kleypas killed a character in one of her books I would be furious. Why? Because that’s breaking the rules of romance. No, I don’t think she is going to do that, but you get what I’m saying. If Jonathan Maberry kills off a character I like I will be sad, but I wouldn’t be angry because he is playing by the rules of horror.
The question is- would you hate a book if a beloved character was killed? What are your won rules to make that okay to do in a book? If you love Game of Thrones I don’t want to hear that you would NEVER read a book like that. lol
I am currently writing a young adult series and a Gothic suspense series. They are two very different series. As I work no book 2 of the Gothic suspense series I know going in that someone we will learn to have sympathy for is going to die. It’s important that he die. His death changes a lot of things for the story arc and for the characters. I don’t arbitrarily kill of characters just because I can. But, sometimes death is inevitable for other things to move forward. It’s a thriller/suspense so I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised or even angry, but I bet it will make people stop and think. That’s what a death should do, in my opinion. It should add something to the story. A murder adds clues. A tragedy puts characters in a situation they wouldn’t normally be in, etc.
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where you were actually stunned when a character died? Have you cried over the death of a character in a book before, but also felt it needed to happen or that it couldn’t have been any other way?
Tell me about a book or movie in which you were surprised about the death of a character, or one that you hated that they died, but knew it couldn’t end any other way.