hi!! so in my story, one of the characters who isn’t super important dies of a stroke, however her death is extremely important since it really messes up one of the main characters and continues to affect the entire story (she dies about half way through) I am afraid this will seem like I jumped the shark looking for a way to shake things up. one way to make it seem less bad I think is to give her obvious warning signs from the very beginning. whats your opinion on this or advice if you have it?
There are definitely a lot of things to consider here. One of which is that you should really avoid killing a character, especially a female character, whose only role in the story is to serve as motivation or conflict for another character. There are lots of reasons why this should be avoided, but the most generally applicable one is this: it’s too convenient. One way to avoid this is to make sure the character has some other role in the story. They don’t have to be important, per se, but they should be important in that they have some role or purpose to fulfill that only they can fulfill. Perhaps their advice is invaluable to the main character. Perhaps they impart some knowledge that only they know. Perhaps they are the only one who can get “the team” through security at the bio-chemical lab. Whatever their purpose is, it needs to be something other than dying for another character’s benefit.
And yes–making sure there are warning signs from the beginning is also a good idea, because it takes this from being a random occurrence to something that was foreshadowed in some way. However, that might be a bit difficult with a stroke as the warning signs tend to accompany the actual stroke and not be something that would be happening days, weeks, or even months earlier. Instead, with something like this, you might look more at the potential causes or risk factors for stroke and make sure some of them are present in the character. You might even have some point where they say something like, “I’m trying to take it easy nowadays. My doctor says I’m at a high risk for stroke.” Just make sure to do your research either way.
Finally, just make sure the rest of the story speaks for itself. If the character’s death has ripples felt throughout the story, that’s good–but just make sure that the story stands on its own two feet. :)
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