I asked what kind of article would be helpful to you all, and this is the one that I picked:
“itsamagicbrawl answered: How to write character death without it seeming cheesy.”
Well, let’s first think about what can make a death cheesy:
> Melodrama. This is a big one, because writers know that this Is A Serious Event Of Weeping And Pulling Of Hair.
But… If you’re just trying to make it bigger, and more full of tears, and just generally BIGGER, you can go over the top, and the reader who is just chilling in their room with their parakeet thinks “Whut is this weeping and pulling of hair.” It can totally alienate your readers, too, because many people don’t feel the ‘right’ things when faced with tragedy.
> Not getting serious about your character dying. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the characters that you slate for revival, or to actually be alive. You’ll notice that their deaths are written differently, because the author doesn’t grieve along with you. It’s okay to sometimes use the not really dead trope, if it works in your story, but please, let your character have something better than awkwardly falling off a cliff and having the others mourn and then get going, only to appear on the back of an eagle nine chapters later.
So, how can we try and make a serious character death?
< First off, while it’s good to know things like stages of grief, it’s good to know so that you can diverge when you need to. Writing it straight from the guidebook can make it seem very clinical. I remember back in fifth grade, when one of my peers died, we had in grief counselors to talk to us, and I felt very alienated because none of my feelings matched the stages of grief that they described, or I’d skipped a great big swath of them. So feel free to suit reactions to your characters’ personalities, and the situation.
< Minimalism. In which you hit hard, and fast, then disappear into the underbrush while your readers curse your name. Remember Wash in Serenity? In case it’s been a bit (tell me you’ve all seen it), our beloved little dweeb was impaled nearly at random by a piece of metal and the characters had zero time to mourn until the end of the movie. They didn’t have time to stop, but the audience sure did, as they threw popcorn at the screen and swore.
< Humor. No, really. Black humor can be really effective if you do it right for deaths. Catch 22 did it really well- the whole point of the comedy in that book was to make the readers laugh, and then realize with horror what they are laughing at. How about Mercutio? He cracked a joke as he lay bleeding out. See, when you get the audience to laugh, you have tripped an emotional response in them, making it easier to hit their emotions again, hard.