Bring out your dead: on killing characters and historical tropes

Hi, peeps! (see what I did there, given the holiday? Heh.)

I hope this weekend treats you well and that everything is fab with you and yours.

This, my friends, IS A MAJOR LONG-ASS POST. But one in which I need to unpack a few things with regard to certain tropes.

I’ve been thinking about the characters I write, and the characters I’ve grown attached to through other people’s writing, and how it affects people when a writer decides to kill a character.

Writers make decisions all the time on which characters live or die, and that depends on a variety of factors, including the genre, narrative arc, and the personal arcs of the characters themselves. It also depends on where the story may be headed, especially if it’s a series, and how that character is going to fit into a larger picture down the line, if at all.

So there are any number of factors involved in a decision to remove a character either from the printed page or a TV show or movie. And there are any number of things that can happen, both inside the story and outside once the character’s death occurs.

There are also much larger currents at play, and those, too, have a role in reactions. Especially outside the story, among those who are following it.

Specifically, I’m thinking here of a couple of series on TV that I follow. Those are The CW’s The 100 and AMC’s The Walking Dead.

And here’s where I put the SPOILER ALERT. If you follow both these series and you have not seen the most recent episodes, DO NOT READ ANY FARTHER. STOP NOW.



Okay, fine. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Let’s proceed.

And because this is a looooong piece, with lots of rumination, grab your fave delicious beverage and snacks before reading on. I’ll wait.

dum dee dum. la la la. ::checks the Twitterz:: ::plays around on Facebook::

Okay, ready? Let’s go.

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Walking Dead, Season 2

Greetings, earthlings–

Whew. Majorly hectic week. I know we all have those, but gads what a pain in the you-know-what.

Anyway! Zombie Saturday! Time to talk about a super-cool show!

October 16 brings us the premiere of season 2 of AMC’s Walking Dead, the TV adaptation of the graphic novels of the same name. If you’re a zombie fan and you didn’t catch this series last year, OMG get yourself caught up on it. If you haven’t run screaming from Netflix yet, you can get season 1 via that route if you don’t want to buy it. And if you’re a newbie to the show, AMC has a good rookie guide here. For those of you in the know, here’s the season 2 trailer.

I highly recommend Walking Dead for a variety of reasons. One, the make-up and effects are great. Two, the characters are well-drawn and the acting is really good. Three, great dialogue and pacing. Four, if you like horror/thriller stuff, this series will bring it in buckets. Excellent tension build-up in a variety of arenas: zombies, other (and not so nice) survivors, and drama between the characters. I think that’s what really distinguishes this series from your basic run-of-the-mill zombie scarefest. The very human interactions and drama that go on between people who are trying to negotiate new boundaries and ways of interacting in a world that has gone completely batshit.

That’s what really hammers this series home in terms of apocalyptic scenarios (in this case, zombies). How people deal with it. It’s not a hopeful “yay we’ll survive” kind of thing. The people that inhabit Walking Dead survive not necessarily because they think there’s something out there that will bring redemption and safety, but rather because they don’t know what the hell else to do. They’re reduced to the very basics of mammalian urges: to live, whether it’s a good idea or not. You also see the different ways that different people adapt to the new circumstances, and whether or not old internal moral codes hold and if so, how does a character enact them and why? What’s the point of maintaining a sense of ethics? That’s something a few of the characters struggle with, perhaps because to them, doing so anchors them to themselves and to a past that no longer exists, and it’s part of the way they feed their survival urges. But it’s also an interesting examination of what makes us human, and why that even should matter in a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested society.

And on October 3rd, you can catch a webisode — an inside story derived from Walking Dead. For those of you who caught season 1, remember the first episode when Rick leaves the hospital and he’s wandering around and comes across that zombie in the park who doesn’t have legs and she’s crawling along and it’s really kind of sad? A six-part webisode gives you her backstory. Her name was Hannah. So check back on October 3 to catch that.

Sure to be good stuff.

And also, if you get a chance, do catch a zombie walk/crawl if there are any scheduled in your local communities. Many are also charity events — that is, to participate, the organizers might request that you bring a can of food or donation for a local charity/food bank. Then have a party. You’ll see some great costumes (even if you don’t dress up yourself) and people just really get into it. Most also have after-parties, and those are way fun, too. It’s a good way to blow off some steam, tap into your dark side, and show off your mad costuming skillz!

And don’t forget, some hardcore zombie aficiondos out there are planning 3-day zombie apocalypse events. For info on that, go HERE.

There you go. Happy weekend!