How to Write Death Scenes

me I'm beautiful don't lick it

don't lick it butters it's not good for

you you crazy girl look at you look at

you hello everybody

today we're talking about every writer

secret obsession and that is killing off

characters specifically how to write an

impactful death scene but before we get

started is there something on my face

death scenes are very common in fiction

because writers are nuts

the problem is death scenes can make or

break a piece of fiction depending on

how they're written why they're written

and how they impact the overall story

you want your death scene to mean

something to the audience but doesn't

mean it has to be sad or makes some kind

of spectacle but even the smaller deaths

have to pack some kind of punch that's

where I come in

I'm breaking down the top 10 tips for

writing a death scene that gets under

your readers skin in three two one go

number one what's the point not every

death in your book needs to be

monumental but it does have to serve

some kind of purpose your job is to

figure out the point of the death scene

before you write it and know making the

reader sad is not a reason it has to

serve some greater significance to the

plot for example maybe this death proves

to the emcee or the rear just how

formidable the villain is maybe it

watches the emcee into their breaking


maybe it's the inciting incident nailing

down the purpose of the death scene will

make it a lot easier to write because

you will have an immediate idea of the

tone and gravity that a death scene

needs to hold number two shock value

doesn't count it's awesome when a death

is shocking but shock value cannot be

the sole reason behind it full stop but

Jenna I'm an evil sadistic writer

I love tormenting my readers joke's on

you because you're just tormenting them

by writing a real shitty book first of

all it's an amateur move

lots of newbies take this route because

they were shocked by deaths and some of

their favorite series

they want to emulate them butters ladies

cooing are you crazy

hoots okay but I can almost guarantee

that those scenes you're emulating were

more than just shocking they affected

the plot in some way and you just

overlooked it second shock value is

cheap the readers know what you're doing

and it lessens the quality of the

reading experience third shock loses its

value when repeated because readers

start to expect it instead of making

your deaths impactful you're actually

doing the opposite shocking deaths are

great too right and super entertaining

provided that's not their sole purpose

number three relation to the MC if

you're gonna kill off a character you

have to determine their relation to the

MC in order to get an idea of how it

will affect the reader readers are

experiencing the story through the main

character so if the main character

barely knows a person who dies guess

what readers aren't gonna give a

this means their death needs to serve a

purpose other than making the main

character depressed or sad maybe the

death is shocking or horrifying to them

on the flip side if your main character

is super close with the victim then they

will likely be a mess when they die and

readers will in theory feel the same

this is important to analyze otherwise

you may end up killing a character and

expecting a reaction that doesn't

translate at all if you kill off the MCS

best friend and their only reaction is

to fear for their own life that'll make

them seem like a heartless dick if you

kill off a stranger and the MC mourns

for months now they just look like a big

wuss know what this character means to

your MC and it will significantly help

with creating the right tone number 4

mirror the emotion whatever emotion

you're trying to convey with this death

needs to be mirrored in the pacing if

the death is Swift and shocking then the

pacing needs to be swift and abrupt

don't drag out the death in long rambly

sentences it'll make it feel like it's

happening at a snail's pace which is the

opposite of what you want on the flip

side if the death is long and agonize

things then the pacing should be slower

with much longer sentences emotions

translate heavily into sentence

structure so take advantage of that by

making your readers feel the way you

want them to feel number 5 show don't

tell if your character's dad dies and

you say to the reader

he was sad that's not gonna mean to

them showing the emotion and utilizing

your characters five senses will make

the death much more impactful if the

character is indeed sad describe them

sobbing as they cradled their face in

their hands this grind how the sadness

feels in their body the eight of their

lungs the thickness in their throat can

they smell the blood and sweat on the

battlefield can they taste the salt of

their own tears do they hear the cries

of mourners setting the scene in this

manner is going to make the death scene

much more evocative to the reader as

opposed to just saying a character died

and the emcee is upset about it number


avoid melodrama we've all seen the same

reactions to death scenes over and over

again the emcee hovers over the body

while screaming no into the darkness

maybe they shake their fists at the

heavens while screaming why God why

maybe they leaned over the corpse while

whispering I shall avenge you before you

write this

ask yourself what this happen in real

life would you do this if the answer is

no you got yourself some melodrama death

is a real thing that happens every day

and it's tragic and emotional all on its

own you don't need a car tuna fie the

experience to get a reaction if anything

you're just making it less relatable

number seven remember the effect how

many times have you read a book where a

character dies and let those on like

nothing happens as we already covered

your characters death needs to serve a

purpose and that will likely have an

effect both on the plot and the

characters themselves if the death scene

exists to show just how powerful the

villain is then your characters will be

affected accordingly either by being

fearful or intimidated or more

determined than ever to stop them if a

death breaks the characters heart they

are not going to be back to normal the


day they are going to be mourning for

some time death can trigger PTSD or

depression death can trigger rage how

your character reacts is just as

important if not more important than the

death itself number 8 foreshadowing is

not your friend there are always

exceptions to the rule but nine times

out of ten foreshadowing a death is not

a good look

congratulations you just eliminated the

element of surprise and dampen the

emotional experience that was stupid if

the reader knows the death is coming

they have time to prepare themselves

which is not what you want you want them

to be caught off guard you want the

death to feel unpredictable of course if

the character is dying of disease or

wasting away with old age it doesn't

matter what you do

readers know what's going to happen

additionally there are situations where

the rear will expect the death but still

be surprised due to the nature in which

it occurs however outside of these


lay off the foreshadowing if you can

number nine resurrect at your own risk

there are plenty of stories where a

character dies and comes back to life

for whatever reason sometimes this is

necessary for the plot other times it's

a cop out before you resurrect a

character be 100% certain that this is

what the story needs know from the start

that this resurrection is going to

cheapen the death and depending on how

it's handled it makes sheep in all

future deaths throughout the series

sometimes this is okay especially if the

resurrection happens immediately after

the death because then the reader

doesn't have time to become emotionally

affected it also works at the

resurrection offers some kind of

revelation like immortality or brand new

magic but the more you lay on the

emotion over the death and the longer

you wait to resurrect them the bigger

the risk you may be pissing your readers

right off and number 10 calm down a lot

of writers especially newbies feel like

they gotta write a massacre in order to

be edgy I'm not a regular writer I'm a

cool writer it's fine to kill off a lot

of characters hell I've done it myself

but as we've already mentioned it needs

to make sense for the story you're not

cool just because you spill blood and if

there isn't a point to it it's

gonna seem gratuitous and to everyone on

the opposite side of the spectrum don't

feel like you have to kill off

characters if it doesn't suit your story

you know your work better than everyone

and if it's not that kind of book it's

not that kind of book death scenes do

not make you cooler than any other

writer it's just another plot point so

that's like our for you today not every

death scene is going to trigger the

waterworks and that's okay what's

important is that your death scenes

matter and they evoke the response you

intended implement these 10 tips and

you'll be on your way to killing off

characters in style don't forget to

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shocking death sir butters you little

tangle I got it I caught it I caught it