My great-aunt Dixie passed away last week. She was a pistol, one of the best women I’ve ever had the privilege to know and love, and she will be greatly missed.
The sky was bright and beautiful the day of her funeral, but bitterly cold. She would not have approved of us lingering at her graveside in that weather. She was too practical, too much the realist. Perhaps it is from her that I inherited such traits, or perhaps it is her spirit speaking through me when I encounter those who insist that characters should never die between the pages of a book.
Death isn’t just a part of life; it’s an incontrovertible, completely unavoidable fact. Everything dies, stars, ecosystems, bacteria. Even universes collapse and are reborn, a continuation many miss. Death isn’t always a bad thing. It isn’t always a harbinger of doom. Without it, new life would never flourish among the remnants of the old. Nothing would be replenished. Life would stagnate and rot, and where would we then be?
A salient point as I contemplate the end of the Daughters of the People Series. I’ve known for a while now that one of my beloved characters must die during the final scenes of the last book. I even know who at least one of those characters must be. Readers are going to hate me, but it must be done. I have done my best to remain faithful to the nature of the Daughters’ world, and to do that, I must now embrace the violent lives they live, a mirror to the reality we inhabit here on Earth.
Someone will die. It won’t be an easy death, but it will be a good one, an honorable one. And life will go on.
As writers, it is up to us to reflect or re-imagine our own world. This is the nature of the stories we create. If it moves your story forward, don’t shy away from killing off a character, particularly if that death acts as the catalyst for change in another character. Be true to the story and the nature of the world you’ve imagined, use the Reaper wisely, but never shun it all together simply because readers will object.