Part 1 is here.
---- Maybe make it look like someone else is going to die, and focus on memories of that person. Then BAM suddenly someone else we love is gone. This helps with the unexpected.
-I kept it short. Actually, that's a lie. I wrote a lengthy paragraph of a death-speech, and Mr.S. suggested I shorten to a "few, gut-wrenching" sentences. And I did. He didn't get to say all that he wanted to, my hero didn't get to say all she wanted to. And he died thinking of his friend. Also, the point in the chapter before where he’s wounded is very sudden.
---- Maybe don't even INCLUDE a death-scene speech. I've always wanted to try that. This character was dying slowly, so he WOULD'VE said something. But I've always wanted to try a sudden death. Those kinds of deaths are hardest to absorb. They feel more unexpected, too, when they're fast.
-I made someone "miss" the death. My main character was with him when he died, but the mentor, his closest friend, was not. This devastated him. The last thing he remembers about his friend is him being there, sticking with him through a nightmarish situation...and then he (the mentor) wakes up, weeks later. His friend is already buried.
---- This isn't touched much on my story, but it's an idea. It hurt my mentor more 1) because he was closer to the ally, but also 2) because he wasn't with him when he died, and he never even saw him dead. It made the death harder to accept.
-Focus on the realities. I don't know if this will do much with readers, but...well, it's like this. My Grandfather died in February. I didn't really cry. He had cancer, so I had done all of my crying when I found out he had it. It was slow and expected. Also, he asked to be cremated, so I never saw a body. All I could think of, actually, was when we stopped in at Christmas and he looked so sick. The night we left, I hugged him and he took my arm hard, looked straight at me, and said "God bless you." I'll always remember that, and it still chokes me up thinking about it. Then, I didn't really cry until the second-to-last week in June. We went into Nebraska, where he grew up, to scatter his ashes in a lake where he used to fish. He'd asked for that, too. It was kind of weird, the box of ashes and the cups, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to do it or not. Then my mom related a conversation she'd had with my 5-year-old sister, Adelle.
Adelle: Mom, where's Grandpa?
Mom: [thinking she might've forgotten] Adelle, Grandpa died.
Adelle: I know, but I thought we were going to throw him in the lake.
It was a funny moment, and my Aunt Lori (Dad's sister) said: "oh, I love that--I bet he's smiling right now." I started laughing, but then I cried. It was all mixed up.
I think I'll also always remember throwing those ashes at the lake. It's a beautiful, gorgeous place. Ever so much better than a box in the ground.
----That's probably too deep, for this character, but I think the plan to "stay real" with death is what makes it ache more. You don't have to be dramatic. Just real.
So...Make him important with a real life to be lived, show his gentleness and faithfulness BEFORE he dies, make his death unimportant, focus on someone else, keep it short.
But most of all: keep it real.
What are you techniques for "good" deaths? Have you ever made a reader cry? If you've read Forest of Lies--did *I* make you cry?