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I have a main character out of 3 main characters in a Historical Fiction book. His name is Darius. I have planned for him to die in a POW camp during WW1, this will happen near the end of the middle/beginning of the end. The other 2 characters are not present at the time of death. I do want the 2 characters to be sad, but move on in their lives. How can I construct the death so well that:

A. The reader is not unsatisfied.

B. The other 2 characters are sad but get on with what they are doing

C. Darius (the one who dies) dies with an honorable end.

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  • Are the other two main characters present at the time of Darius' death? – F1Krazy Nov 6 '20 at 17:08
  • What would you say your book is primarily about? Tragedies of war, character growth, captivating plot etc.? – Alexander Nov 6 '20 at 18:10
  • @F1Krazy the other characters are not present at the time of death. – Nai54 Nov 6 '20 at 18:17
  • @Alexander It is not really war focused. It is set in the Balkans and is primarily focused on the three characters and character development. There is also an adventure aspect to it, as well as civilians affected by war. – Nai54 Nov 6 '20 at 18:29
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    @Ian54 Then you have to take care of 2 things: 1) Make character's death foreseeable and justified (at least in retrospect); 2) Make it serve some purpose - either for the plot, or for your other two character's growth process. – Alexander Nov 6 '20 at 19:04
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This could end very well or not, depending on how you write this.

The way you leave the reader satisfied is simply how your write. I know that you want more structural and helpful advice, but that's really it. If you can write well enough to leave the reader thinking that Darius died an honorable death, you're going to have to comb through your story multiple times to make it the best you can.

If you want your character to die an honorable death, you need to show how the character either gives himself up in the name of something greater (which I think is your plan, since he's a POW) or have him not "plan" to die, but die in a finite way. making it honorable is hard to do, so I would look to something like Harry Potter (bad example, but it's the first that came to mind) and look at people like Fred, Lupin, Sirius, and Harry's parents. These people all died honorably, and that can give you a starting point if you can figure out what they all have in common (hint: they all care about someone).

As for the other two characters getting on with their life, I think that's a good idea, but you have to remember that everyone handles death differently, even characters. Let your characters feel sad for a period of time, then show them slowly realizing they have to move on and still live life.

I hope this helps :).

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For point A; Darius needs to have finished up most of what you want him to do. maybe leave a few loose ends because death isn't always convenient.

For point B; You can't give the other two characters time to stand around for a few hours crying, they have to keep moving and if they stop they die.

For point C; Darius sacrifices himself to save the other 2 MC, or warn a troop of soldiers they're about to be ambushed, or something like that.

Overall, I think you can check all these boxes if Darius dies distracting guards while the other two MCs escape from the POW camp. Good luck!

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  • Thank you. However, the other characters are not in the POW camp with Darius so he can't really help them escape. I do have a question about your answer to part A. When you say loose ends, what do you mean, and what would be an example? – Nai54 Nov 6 '20 at 18:31
  • @Ian54, Just something that he should've done before that might come back to get him if he were still alive. Maybe he owed somebody some money, or he made a promise to somebody, there's a lot of things you could do. – Ceramicmrno0b Nov 6 '20 at 18:36
  • Case in point Captain America's "death" at the end of his first movie. He had a date he was going to go on, and then he wasn't able to show up. That's the thing that really kicks the viewer in the emotions at the end, the unfinished business he now no longer has the chance to finish. If his life had been all nice and neat and tied up in a bow with nothing left to finish, his loss of time wouldn't have felt nearly so tragic. – MarielS Nov 7 '20 at 1:27

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