I've gotten into the habit lately of idling through writing and book blogs to get an idea of what it's like for a reader. Don't get me wrong, I am of course a reader, but I'm talking about for those that are solely readers, the ones who don't deal with the irritating and random thoughts of, whilst reading a book, "that character shouldn't have done that. You know who wouldn't be so stupid? MY CHARACTER." *cue complex psychological intervention of own character*
What I've observed most is that when something "bad" happens in a book, which I sometimes refer to as something "plot advancing in perhaps a non-beneficent way", readers go ballistic. It's the sort of reaction I've felt where you both loathe something for happening - and the author along with it - but at the same time, it's thrilling and you're glad that it happened and took you on such a series of emotions. Of course, what might come to everybody's mind is the most common form of "bad" in book terms, and what drives readers crazy (whilst writers sit with clasped hands, a malevolent laugh rising in their throats as the chaos unfolds...)
Oh, where to begin. I think the best thing to do as a writer when you come to the conclusion that a character needs to, well...disappear (let's be PC about it for now), is to be careful. There are three ways in which readers will react to a character's death (I feel I've been through the emotional trials of all three) and they're going to be the next three chapters as such:
- "I Get It, But I Don't Like It" (pretty much the reaction I think all writers should aim for)
- "You Merciless Cretin: A Reader's Journey Through Post-Character Depression" (not the best, but you can work with it)
- "Red-Leather-Alert: It's All Over - And I Feel Nothing" (as far as I know, I think I coined RLA - COPYRIGHT, hah!)
Read on, minikins, and all shall be explained...