Death by Times New Roman
I once had a creative writing teacher tell me:
Kill a character your reader knows and it's a tragedy,
Kill a character your reader doesn't and it's a mystery.
For whatever reason, it's something that has stuck in my mind. I was thinking about writing my novel this weekend, and I say thinking because that's pretty much as far as I got with it. My novel is an action piece and as such, several stranger characters have already died. Really, they should have heeded the warning signs.
Anyway, I'm quickly coming to the point in my novel when one or two of the primary characters must bite the dust. They must be torn to pieces (yup, literally).
I find killing stranger characters easy and surprisingly satisfying. Nothing is quite so stress-relieving as writing someone's death by the teeth of a crazed jungle creature. And if the helpless victim resembles the jerk at work - all the better to make things more realistic, eh?
It's the build up to killing them off that's causing some obstacles for me. I don't want to suddenly pay too much attention to the character, but I also don't want the death to catch the reader completely by surprise. It's that balance...
So, how do you cope with the death of your characters? Do you go with a slow build or more of the direct approach with suspense? Do you treat death more as a tragedy or more as a mystery?