So I am helping critique a friend's novel (and it's really good) and at one point one of her other critters suggested a change that would save a secondary character's life. My knee-jerk reaction was, "No way! It adds drama and tension and huge emotion to the scene." (And it does!) And my next thought after that was, "Of course, this comes from me; I kill a lot of people in my book. If I just count named characters who you actually get to know, I kill . . ." And it took me a long time to count up my answer.
Now first things first, there are a LOT of characters in my novel. When you have a magic system that requires two people, all of your main, magical characters come in twos. . .so I have about a zillion characters. (One of the main reasons I couldn't cut it anymore; lots of characters who are essential to the plot.
So anyhow, I counted up all the named, important characters who are killed. None that die accidentally or from diseases or something, but those who are killed. (Head smashed in, neck snapped, run through with a sword, etc.)
I was amazed and rather appalled with myself. Because on top of that there are a ton of unnamed characters (soldiers, guards, etc.) who die. (And just to give you an idea of how many people are in this book, there are a further 20 or so front row characters who do not die. I have a HUGE cast.)
People I agonized over killing? (And this is part of the twenty-one, not on top of):
People I ended up saving from death?
I'm not very merciful, am I?
Anyone else kill as many people in their book as I do?