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Killing a character should always be a last resort. Why? Because the death of one character will have more impact, more emotion, more everything you could want in a story than the death of thousands. Even if you are writing gruesome horror; keep the death count down, as the fewer deaths there are, the more impact they have on the reader. (Plus if you keep many of your characters alive, it will keep the reader guessing who could snuff it right until the end!)