Monday, October 17, 2011

Sacrificing Story

I play video games sometimes. I tend to prefer ones with rpg elements because I like deep storylines and an idea of character evolution.

A lot of such games these days have plotlines that diverge based on a player's choices. Make one choice, and a certain supporting character will be there for the rest of the game, involved in the story. Make a different choice and that character might die and a major element of the story is gone.

That gets me thinking. Gone. Not just changed. Gone. So is the player missing out because of a particular choice, or are both versions of the story just as fulfilling?

I think this question can be applied to writing. When we decide to subject our characters to something potentially life-changing such as the death of a loved one or other major trauma, how often to we consider how this decision will change the story? Do any authors ever wonder what stories they're giving up my removing a character for good?

I've never really thought too much about it until now. I think, especially when writing a series, it's dangerous to throw in a death for the sake of drama without considering how that will affect the rest of the series. Otherwise, you could end up in situations where you need to introduce a similar character just to fill the role now left empty. Or worse, pull out a "back from the dead" plotline, which rarely goes down well, especially when it's out of the blue.

What do you guys think?