Saturday, March 2, 2013

Death: Getting it Write!

by Peggy Hanchar

Doing death scenes in a book, especially a romance is always a little dicey.  It's too much of a downer, even if the dying is done by the villain after a book long debauchery of evil deeds.  Often times, I have him or her die off stage or at least go quickly so the hero can step across his body and claim the heroine in his arms.  So why have death scenes, why bring it up now?

We're faced with the coming expiration of a family member and the waiting is tough and unsettling, so you use humor, you fake a lightheartedness you don't really feel about this subject.  You waver between contemplating your own death and the meaning of life and death in general.  Why do we have to die?  Why don't we have no expiration date as that commerical says?  Are we being greedy to love life so much that we want more?  I know for sure, death is something no one wants to consider for themselves or loved ones.  No matter what our religious beliefs, when it comes right down to it, we want life to last forever and I guess that's why we love a happily after ending in the books we read.

Having that brush with death, where the villain nearly succeeds in ending the life of either the hero or heroine gives us that shiver down our back, that instant thought that maybe our characters will die.  Horrors!  Then our commonsense kicks in because we know that the author can't do that.  This is happily ever after.  It goes on forever!  Which is what we want for ourselves.

I remember when I was young and forever was so long.  It was forever.  When you get older, you realize forever is not infinite after all.  Forever has a shelf life.  I need those happily ever afters even in my mystery thrillers.  The villain can die but the main character lives on to fight another day.  I've shivered at my brush with death and survived, so my forever goes on.  

When a reader is confronted with death in a book, there are certain, unspoken expectations and as a writer, as a person with a limited forever I understand those parameters as we all must.  I think that's why thrillers are so popular and romances tolerate some death but still require a happy ending.  A brush with death, even vicariously, reminds us of our privilege of life.

1 comment: said...

Say what you need to now, once that door closes- it doesn't open again. Cherish the time, it doesn't heal- it gives you time to accept. Talk about it often, for your own good, there is no wrong way to go through this.