Killing Characters

I've been struggling this week with a plot device that has nipped me in the nether regions once before. In my Kiowa western series, a full-blown character rose from the computer screen to protest his imminent demise. He told me in no uncertain terms I couldn't kill him off. I relented and let him live, although his death would have made a great scene.

Since mysteries are focused on murder and mayhem, I haven't had this problem - until yesterday. I sat down to write the murder scene for a character to whom I've become inordinately attached. She's solid, living, and needed to die to propel the action. Couldn't do it. Just couldn't leave her dead in the fields of Culvert County. Instead, I gave her a reprieve by telling myself I could use her in another way, and proceeded to shoot a secondary character. He'll have to get a bigger role in rewrites to make his death serve the same plot function as Elnora's would have, but at least I skipped over the dilemma of losing Elnora.

This power-of-life-and-death thing is scary, sometimes. When and if you meet Elnora, congratulate her on her ability to take her own destiny into her fictional hands, and let me know if I did the right thing for the story by reprieving her. I sure hope so.