One of the most frustrating plot twists of any fantasy novel I've come across has to be the frequent plot point of a character being left alive (tormented/near-death/or otherwise unkillable [i.e. they happen to be a child])- only to come back and haunt another character, whether they are the hero or the villain. The plot point, I'll admit, plays frequently in my favorite books: The Name of the Wind (Kvothe), The Princess Bride (Inigo Montoya), and others (one that's a spoiler that I happen to be reading now), but is nonetheless frustrating to me.
|Even Oprah agrees...|
And it isn't like the reader doesn't see that plot point coming from miles away (unless, of course, the reader is given the impression that said character is dead), so it adds nothing to the surprise factor. It just makes you grind your teeth at the fool who left whomever alive, only to be all surprised when it backfires. Even miracle 'dead-character-comes-back-to-life' plot twists frustrate me less than this one- because you don't see them coming until it's the big reveal.
So the next time you choose your own adventure (and/or write your own story) please remember: mercy kills, and so does suffering. But dead men tell no tales... unless they happen to be zombies.
My advice to all you wannabe fantasy heroes/villains out there:
Kill them. Kill them DEAD. Or someday, they'll be coming for you.
Have you ever been frustrated with a hero's (or villain's) mercy? Don't you hate it when it's so obvious that the protagonist made a terrible (but altruistic) choice?