Death Tells

by Gail Z. Martin

I write about a necromancer (and Halloween is coming up), so I probably think more about death than a lot of people.  And what I’ve noticed is that what an individual believes about death impacts a lot of other areas of life, while how a culture treats death has wide-ranging impacts.

So, for example, my main character Tris is a necromancer.  He can move between the world of the living and the realms of the dead, and he has seen several aspects of the Goddess.  He doesn’t fear death, because he isn’t at all uncertain about what happens afterwards, but because of the people he cares about and his responsibilities in the living world, he would prefer to live as long as possible.  Contrast that with someone who hangs on to life not because they are connected to people but because they fear what might come after death, and you can see where death begins to color a character’s viewpoints on a lot of things.

Does your character have strong viewpoints over who will be punished or rewarded in the afterlife?  If so, odds are that those some views will color who they believe should be favored or shunned in the living world.  Does your character believe admission into the afterlife will require exceptional virtue, bravery, or circumstances (such as death in battle)?  Expect to see those same qualities emphasized in the living world.  Is reincarnation a part of your character’s beliefs?  You may see that color views toward charity, if hardship in the present life is seen as a punishment for misdeeds in a past life.  How about a belief that there is no afterlife at all?  If so, the character and culture will focus on the benefit of actions in the present reality as opposed to “earning” status in the afterlife.

As you do your world building, factor in the life-after-death question.  You may find that your characters—and your culture—come up with some surprising answers!

Watch for my Days of the Dead online tour beginning October 25!  Book giveaways, free downloads , character interviews, never-before released excerpts, and other cool stuff.  Get more details at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com.

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