Someone has to die in fantasy fiction, right? But why?
Two main reasons for me are…
1 – To have an effect on another character.
It could be an inciting incident near the beginning of the book.
It also works to weaken the character just as they’re close to their goals.
Or, it could send the character spiralling, and another character is forced to step up and prove themselves.
2 – To remind readers of the stakes.
There are so many god-like characters with seemingly unlimited powers these days. They’re immortal, invicible, and this means they can’t die, so there are no stakes.
Killing off a significant character early on makes it clear that they do have weaknesses, and readers feel that threat better.
Sure, some are resurrected or found in the underworld, which is a whole different story.
I don’t mind when it’s an instant resurrection or when the MC goes on a quest to the underworld to get their loved one. But I hate when a deceased character suddenly pops up out of nowhere.
I’m currently pondering a character’s death myself. It’s a complicated one in that I could use their POV in this limbo that they’re stuck in, or I could have another character sense them so it’s obvious to readers that they’re not fully dead.
I’ve discussed it with others, and I’m still undecided. But I will make it clear right after the supposed death that the character it not entirely dead. That way, I don’t annoy readers with a random resurrection.