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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Book Blogger Hop : Would you write a respectful but angry letter...

This weeks Book Blogger Hop question is as follows: Have you ever thought of writing a respectful, but angry letter to an author to ask them WHY they killed off one of your favorite characters in a novel?

That can be answered in one word: No.

And because this is a blog post, I'll add more words. Never. No way. Nope!

If a writer creates a character you care about, just remember, he or she cares even more about them. They thought about them and developed them and if they decide it's important to the novel for that character to go, it's up to them.

Think about it: if Sydney Carton had suddenly been rescued by, say, the Scarlet Pimpernel at the end of A Tale Of Two Cities, what would that have done for his sacrifice? Would we value it as much? Carton started off with a fairly meaningless life. He ended it with something that gave it meaning. What if Dickens had given in to fan demand and let him live?

Walter Scott mentioned in an introduction that he had been pressured into letting his Ivanhoe character Athelstane survive when he had intended to kill him off. But Athelstane was a comical character whose survival wasn't going to affect the novel anyway. His only purpose was to be the guy Lady Rowena's guardian wanted her to marry, for political reasons. No point in killing him off when Rowena had got the guy she wanted anyway.

Tolkien was going to kill off Eowyn, then have Aragorn mourn her all his life. Probably just as well he didn't do that, but as far as I know, that was his own decision, not fan pressure. He decided to let her live and marry Faramir because it worked better, not because of some "respectful but angry letter"!

Not that authors always get it right. For example, I have never been able to work out why J.K Rowling decided to kill off Colin Creevey in the Battle of Hogwarts. If you have read the series, you'll know Colin was a huge Harry fan who first appeared in Chamber of Secrets, toting a camera and begging for autographs. If asked, no doubt she would say that this was a war and in war people die, including those you care about. And that's fair enough and no doubt she chose Colin because it added a touch of pathos to the story. But, apart from the fact that she had already killed off some major characters we cared about, Colin hadn't appeared for some time - and suddenly, he appears and gets killed? Also, he was a Muggleborn student who would not have been at Hogwarts in that last year anyway, more likely he would have been in hiding, so what was he doing there? 

Then there's that major killer-off of good guys, George R.R Martin. I should say at this point that I've only seen a few episodes of Season 1 of the TV series Game Of Thrones, so I'm talking here about the novels. I have followed the newspaper accounts, so I have some idea of how it has been going, but not seen - or, to be honest, cared - that characters who survived in the books were killed off on TV.

Fact: when I was reading the first book, I was shocked at the first death, Ned Stark. Then he killed off some more characters and I was rather impressed with the fact that nobody, but nobody, was safe in this universe! It kept me on my toes.

Then I stopped caring. When Mr Martin had killed off enough of his characters, I just began rolling my eyes. "Not again!" 

So no, he won't be getting a "respectful but angry" letter from me. His universe, his business! But he has lost this particular reader, for now at least, not because he killed off characters I liked, but because there has just been too much of it for my taste.  I'm waiting for a film or miniseries of Fevre Dream, a book of his I liked much better.

So, what do you think, O my readers? Would YOU be writing even a polite letter complaining about a character death?


Mandy said...

Great post and fair point. I don't think I would ever write an angry but respectful letter regarding the killing off of my favorite characters. Not my writing and not my choice. Plus, at the point it's been written, do we really expect the writer to change the book? Absolutely not! It is what it is. The decision has been made. Get over it!

With Love,

Sue Bursztynski said...

Well said, Mandy! Mind you, some people take it out in fan fiction. That might be better than writing to the author!

UrbanDragon said...

A great fun post. Re GoT, I still chuckle when I remember the remark below on TV : " Tyrion is still alive. Did not see that coming"

Sue Bursztynski said...

Chuckle! No, I don’t imagine any of us saw it coming.