When to Kill a Character.

I write romance novels so that implies HEA which means Happily Ever After. I balk at the idea.

My favourite romances aren’t like this. Think about Romeo and Juliet. They both DIE! Or the big screen version Shakespeare in Love. The lovers don’t end up together. She has to go off with an obnoxious husband (Colin Firth who is on my bucket list) and Joseph Fiennes is left to write brilliantly about a love that got away.

Even Titanic, which for a generation is the epitome of romance, Jack dies and Rose lives on. (Thank God. I hated how she kept saying “Jack, Jack, Jack” as if she’d forgotten his name.)

Then there’s Gone With The Wind, still the-adjusted-inflation-and-time-and-global-reach all-time box office chance. Think about it. Scarlett goes back to Tara and Rhett goes off into the fog. Sure, some people believe they eventually get reunited but I doubt it. Few couples can survive the death of a child.

And now there’s The Fall which is as much a sexy back and forth between Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan as Silence of the Lambs was between Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. There is an inherently sexual tension about a murder case. There’s that the cat-and-mouse between killer and detective. You can feel it when it’s done right.

There is some question about season 3 of The Fall which is now filming in Belfast. I agree with the author of the article in The Guardian. Paul Spector has to die to serve the narrative.

It’s tough as an author to kill off characters. I know, because there’s a key death in each one of my novels. I honestly believe that without loss we can’t understand the value, the depth of love. So I kill off my creations. I weep. So much so my husband tiptoes past the door to my den.

Don’t read book 8 of the St. Barts series of romance novels unless you have tissues handy.

Just sayin’.


2 thoughts on “When to Kill a Character.

  1. charcamolson says:

    I recently realized in one of the stories I’m working on, also something of a romance, that I’m probably going to have to kill one of my favorite characters. Not so happy with that. But it makes the deeper message of the story much more serious and believable if it all takes place in a world where horrible awful things happen to the people we care most about.


    1. Emme Cross says:

      It’s not the conventional norm, at least not in mainstream romances, to kill a major character. But those tend to be my favourite books, the loss heightens the love. Or I’m just very morbid.


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