Friday, November 29, 2013

Shaking Things Up?

Hello Familiar Friends,

I get very weary of hearing that phrase "shaking things up."  This happens in both books & TV, where they decide to kill off a character or break up a couple for example, because shaking thins up is supposed to create more good conflict or excitement.  But sadly this is never the outcome I usually experience. 
It is a cheaters way out.  An "I have no good ideas so I am going to kill off a character."  It is annoying and stupid.  I never feel a shake up.  I just feel pissed off and stop reading (JK Rowling-you killed Hedwig!) or stop watching (Family Guy is dead to me).
The point is, unless a characters death is meaningful or drives the story, death is a cheap tool.  There is also a very twisted point of view out there that is a character's story is done, they kill them rather than let them ride off into the sunset.  There are a number of TV shows I have just stopped watching because of this.  Death must mean something in a novel (or TV show or movie), else the emotional feed turns sour.  Yes, we can have our hearts broken over Romeo & Juliet, but their deaths were necessary to the story.  
You can create conflict and shake things up with good storytelling.  That is why, using a TV show as an example, Doctor Who rocks.  They have created more heartbreak and shaking things across the galaxy without killing off key characters.  They are lost in other Universes, are forced to lose their memories to save their lives-but they are not killed.    From a novel series, I love David Eddings.  His Belgariad and Mallorean series are often reread by me.  There are many characters but they are not a kill list.  He rarely kills off characters unless it is necessary to the story.  Sure, you always want to see the bad guy die-and they do- but the protagonists suffer so many trials and traumas, death is not needed.    I love George RR Martin, but his death counts are frightening.   I am sure he has a reason, but the journey there is rocky.    I often need a break from good ole' George.  And a shot of rum.
So do not cheat your readers (or audience).   

More later.

Verna McKinnon

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