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LOST IN TIME 3: the Fallen

Updated: Jun 30, 2021


(Chapters 5 and 6)

You can download the episode here:

This episode features the death of a character who was originally supposed to survive into the second book.

No, it’s not who you think...

Just a girl from the gutters

The attack at the Resistance Hall was always planned as the mid point of book 1, as it raises the stakes of the story by showing how powerful and dangerous the Specialists (and, by extension, the government) are, and how in over her head Shiva is.

However, for the Specialists to feel like a real threat someone the reader AND the characters care about has to die. We've all read stories where the heroes escape unscathed, and it makes action scenes have no narrative tension. This was the purpose of Cindy's death.

While Cindy was always destined to die; the romantic link between her and Shiva came about quite by accident.

Early readers interpreted the relationship as a romance instead of a friendship, and because it emerged naturally from the story and the readers like it, I decided instead of cutting the more suggestive lines I would lean into them instead, cumulating in a new scene where they kiss.

Just because something was unintentional, doesn't automatically make it bad.

My only hesitation was that I was "fridging" Cindy, but her sexuality didn't factor into the decision to kill her off, and it would have felt wrong to use that as a reason to spare her. Their kiss also marks a turning point for Shiva: she has been goal orientated for so long she's avoided reflecting on matters of the heart. Cindy's advances and tragic fate forces Shiva to confront the emotional consequences of her decisions, and who she is as a person outside of her role in the Resistance.

Chain effect

No, the character who met their demise prematurely was actually Polymer.

While Karth has a short PoV in chapter 3, his real introduction as an assassin is when he interrogates Resistance members after the shootout. However, when I first wrote this scene, Karth killed a random unnamed Resistance member, making the act feel hollow. I needed the audience to hate/fear Karth, and so the person who died had to be someone the reader knew. After a lot of thought I realised the only character who fit was Polymer.

I was reluctant. I would have to throw away a lot of outlining, character work and even some early draft writing. So it wasn't enough for Polymer's death to boost Karth's character, it also had to affect the story moving forward in an interesting way. I gave myself time to think about the possible ramifications of the loss of the Resistance leader, and only committed to the decision once I'd come up with a compelling alternate timeline.

It was also quite exciting to no longer have such a firm plan on what was going to happen down the road, and it forced me to be more creative with my narrative once I reached this point.

(I have now written this future section, and can safely say I’m happier with how it turned out compared to my original, Polymer centric, plans)

On Death

If the heroes always win, then action scenes can be a boring slog to read, because they are predictable.

But you shouldn't randomly kill characters either. If a death doesn't have meaning then it is just shock value at the expense of character development and the reader.

My belief is that characters shouldn’t just disappear when they die, but their spirit should impact the story going forward.

Think of a detective/ crime novel: the victim isn't just forgotten about, they are actually the character who the rest of the story is influenced by.

Whatever a character does should aid the overall story, and the includes their death.

My aim with my writing is to keep the reader guessing without resorting to nonsense twists that frustrate the reader. I suppose time will tell if I succeed!


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