Monday, June 25, 2012

Coup de Grâce

Mangled Manuscript Monday

When I was in high school, a friend of mine liked to dress up like Dracula. He’d stand on his front lawn, wait until a car passed, then strike a pose, raising his fist to the sky.

One time, just as a car slowed to witness the spectacle a lightning bolt struck a nearby tree. The driver raced away. Probably because of the psycho on the lawn rather than the supernatural fireworks.

One of the Dracula-wannabe’s favorite word combinations was ‘coup de grâce’. He pronounced it ‘coop de gracee’ but that only added to the favor of the moment.

Coup de grâce means to end suffering by administering a final blow. Or an execution. To kill a wounded enemy or animal.

When I start out writing a new story, I don’t think about killing off a character. It just seems to happen. Like it is either an accident or a conclusion that I didn’t foresee. Oddly, even though these are only voices in my head, still I can get a little misty eyed when they die.

Very odd. Not as odd as a seventeen-year-old man dressing up like a vampire but strange nonetheless.

How do you kill off your characters? Is it premeditated or do they ask for it? And are you saddened by their death?


  1. I've seldom begun a story with someone's death in mind. usually the story flows along its own path; sometimes there's a happy ending, often not. And yes, I feel a little sad unless it's some particularly heinous individual, in which I feel satisfied in administering my own brand of justice :-) I would have loved to see your friend as Dracula, BTW.

  2. Odd story!
    I've only killed one and it was planned. Really hated to do it because I liked that character a lot. By the time I got to that scene, it became one of the most difficult things ever to write.

  3. people get killed in a thriller all the time! and usually just when you got to know them =)

    wonder where that guy is now...

  4. At this time, I haven't killed off a character. I really don't want to do that and am striving to make a story where the lack of a death of a main character doesn't necessarily make the story worse.

    I kind of get sick of people killing off characters that I've come to enjoy.

  5. Death of the bad guy - totally planned. Death of Rodd, the wonderful secondary love interest who was sweet and noble - totally a surprise that had to happen. I still get choked up when I read back through that part of the manuscript. I feel stupid, too, but it does make me sad all over again.

  6. Hmm,I did kill someone off in my last story and I have to say I rather liked it ;)

  7. I never pre-plan it, but my sick characters will wait until I'm invested and then say: "Oh. By the way. So-and-so dies. ... Sorry."


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