Death: A Figment of My Imagination?

One of the characters died in the book I’m writing. Not just a character, someone very close to me: a unique individual, a beloved friend.

I see the death, aftermath and funeral clearly in my mind at various (usually inconvenient) times or places throughout the day and tears may trickle down my cheeks or I may get sad and depressed. Is this one of the pros or cons of writing? I’m not sure.

Someone invariably asks me if anything is wrong. “A friend died recently,” I sniff.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Yes, it’s sad, but don’t worry he wasn’t real.” (It’s no wonder I have a reputation.)

It doesn’t feel like a figment of my imagination.

My daughter saw me moping the other day. When she asked what was wrong, I told her my favorite character had died.

“What are you so sad for? You’re the one who killed him.”

AAAAHHH. It was like a knife in the heart. Ok that’s a little dramatic but you get the idea.

“I did not kill him. So and so killed him.” (I can’t name who did it. Who knows? You may read it someday, and this would spoil it.)

“Well you made them do it. It’s still your fault.”

It is not my fault.”

It’s amazing how adept we humans are at shifting the blame. I wanted to blame my muse for the death, after all she went on the lark and came back with lots of fodder for me to use. But I was afraid to blame her; I didn’t want her getting angry at me and running off again.

Romeo & Juliet: Who’s to blame for this tragedy?

I’m not the only writer faced with accusations of murder. It’s an occupational hazard.  Who’s to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?  Friar Laurence who orchestrated the deception? Romeo the impetuous? Juliet the romantic?

Or is Shakespeare the true culprit?

Or could it be that we humans are not to blame for anything? The serpent is the one who started it. I say we blame it all on the serpent.

This is a revised post from 8/2011


19 comments on “Death: A Figment of My Imagination?

  1. There is no doubt that, after a time and if you keep at it, you become so immersed in the story and characters you are creating that the border between them and your physical life can become dangerously blurred !


  2. I would blame Ed Asner


  3. Over the course of writing two novels, I have killed off seven people. Only one was murdered; the others died via “circumstances.” I have never felt any guilt for these deaths even though I created them. In fact, some have given me a sense of achievement since they were sudden and meant to surprise…and indeed they did just that according to feedback I’ve gotten from readers. So, I guess you may even say these have been pleasurable deaths for me. Oh-oh, now I feel guilty.


  4. I know what you mean. Even villains in a story are hard to knock off. You get attached. And if you’re like me, the story has a mind of its own–you’re just typing out what the story and characters are dictating to you. I’m constantly surprised at what comes onto the page. It’s something only a writer can appreciate… You have my condolences.


  5. At least take condolence that you are not alone. All the other characters who his/her death has taken a toll on are also grieving. Your character will be missed and loved.


  6. It is hard to let go of characters, projects we’re working on, and our other babies. Your posts about writing are always fascinating. Do you post your stories here?


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