When Bad Things Happen to Good Characters: How to Write Tragic Events

In fantasy as in life, bad things happen to good characters. Fairy Tales are filled with horrible scenes, sometimes too grim even for the consenting adult. As a struggling writer of fantasy, I employ both the grim and the wonderful in my characters and plots. The contrast and excitement of not knowing what is awaiting just around the bend- maybe deep inside a gaping hole of ancient oak or coming face to face with a winged creature so beautiful it made you terrified, is the stuff of what makes a story open to bad things happening to good characters. Within the fantasy I try to maintain a tension, based around the central character/characters. Yes, sometimes within the depth of the story, and for the sake of the story, a character suffers. That character in fantasy, can always be redeemed in this story or another.

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

He just read…. any one of the later Harry Potter books. Sadness.

So, my proofreader is finished with “The Magic Council,” and things are proceeding according to schedule for a November 9 release of the second installment in the Herezoth trilogy. Yea! Since my proofreader, in addition to her multiple language degrees, is also a good friend, we chatted a bit about the book after she wrapped things up, and, in reference to one particular moment when a bad thing happens to a good character, she told me, “I was thinking, No, Victoria! No, don’t do it! I understand why it had to happen, but… So sad!”

Laura (my proofreader) is one of many people–me included–who would rather not see characters we like suffer. There’s nothing unusual about that; we don’t like to see real people suffer, after all, and especially not those we care about. Suffering is an aspect…

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