In the end, the characters basically shook out into a certain break-down.
- 33% = The Ultimate Red-Shirts.
No one cares about about these people at all, so when the writer bumps them off, people shrug and move on.
- 33% = Bad Guys
These are the folks you aren't supposed to like. So, really, when someone -- the narrator, a character, whoever -- bumps them off, you kind of applaud. And, let's face it, you don't feel sad at all.
- 33% = Good guys
When these people die, we all feel sad. Even if you know it's coming, that you the writer intends to kill him/her eventually, you're kind of hoping that isn't going to happen, that they'll find some way around his/her own rules and will keep that one.
Eventually, though, I'm just gonna say it, all that dying gets old. It's not that I have an inherent aversion to the death that some books just plain have to have. It's just that eventually that the time came that I felt like the writer was bumping off characters just to bump of characters. There came a point when I thought the writer was killing characters, and I'm included characters people liked who did not for any real reason have to die, just to prove that he or she could.
To me, it just looks like the writer was trying to shore up his or her Anyone Can Die cred. I get it, Anyone Can Die is a nice thought, because it establishes real world values in the text, exempting characters from MC Superpowers that annoy people, it maintains tension in the story but keeping stakes high, and it increases the motivations of any character who survives the death of someone they knew. But there's a line between Keeping It Real and Being Downright Arbitrary, and an overuse of the Anyone Can Die rule seems to be arbitrary and almost trying too hard.
I'm not going to lie, sometimes I worry I give my characters a little too much Plot Armor. I've bumped off characters before, but only because I thought it benefited the story and the plot. Once upon a time a character appeared in my head and one of the first things I knew about him -- lovely guy, great character -- was that he died in the middle. But I only knew he had to die, because the story would not have worked if he'd lived. Sometimes characters just have to die.
Sometimes they have to die. But they don't all have to die.
How do you feel about character's dying? How do you feel about killing characters? Do you do that a lot? How do you feel about writers who kill off a lot of characters?