Brainstorming Fun or 1,000 Ways to Kill Off a Character

I needed a easy way to kill off a minor character I’m writing, but I couldn’t decide how to do it. I didn’t want it to be a long drawn out process or from a disease that would put others at risk. I also didn’t want it to be murder. My character was a widow who was on the ship to become a Jamestown bride. I decided to pose the question on Facebook. Brainstorming can be loads of fun, and everyone wanted to join in. Here are some of the responses I got.

Most people seemed to want her to be murdered. One person said I needed a murder on the high seas in my novel.

The second largest response had something to do with pregnancy, miscarriage, or childbirth. This lady must have got around. She was a single widow going to be a bride in Jamestown, but a lot of people still wanted her to be pregnant. One person decided she wasn’t pregnant, but she did die from a female health issue. Another one said she died of hot flashes.

The third largest response had something to do with her going overboard. That wasn’t that unusual during the 1600s since passengers had to spend most of their time on the deck even during storms. After my character made it into the drink, one person said she froze to death and another had her eaten by sharks.

Infection made the list a number of times. Death by gangrene was not pleasant. Most had her getting infected through a cut or an accident, but my favorite was the infection by a splinter in the finger that killed her.

One person had her get hit by a wave when there was a raging storm. Apparently she was dying for a breath of fresh air when a big wave hit, and she lost her balance and hit her head against a metal bolt. She wasn’t the only one that had my character dying because of an accident. Others had her hit by a boom, strangled in a line, impaled on something sharp like a knife when she lost her balance, or was hit by something. Someone else said she slipped down the stairs and broke her neck? Did they have stairs on those ships?

There were two accidental deaths that were unusual. One person said her skirt got caught in something leading to a mortal head wound. The most unusual accident was she’s involved with criminals (pirates), maybe they forced her to swallow or carry a weapon (tiny knife for example in the belly, back) and it killed her.

Allergies to sea water and a spider bite made the list. Other people had her bit by a snake or rats. One person said she died of rabies. All kinds of vermin lived on those ships.

Some of the natural causes included a blood clot, a heart attack, diabetes, an aneurysm, unknown causes, and appendicitis. One person had her chocking on food. Another had her struck by lightning.

A couple of my favorites, other than the death by hot flashes, were death by boredom and death by secret love. Maybe she died of a broken heart.

The one I chose was not the most exciting in this list, but it suits my purposes. She had severe sea sickness and couldn’t keep anything down. After a while, she died of dehydration. Not a fun way to die. By the time the got to Jamestown, nine other women would die, so I might refer to some of the other ideas. Brainstorming is a lot of fun.


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