Recently, a beta reader who was looking over a novella for me said she wasn’t surprised when a certain character died: something about the guy just marked him as a ‘red shirt’ from the start. At first I was a little concerned. This character’s death was supposed to be a turning point, an event that showed that we were moving into the climax of the story and that things were serious now. If this guy seemed like a red shirt, that might dampen the impact of the moment.
(Point of interest: The term ‘red shirt’ comes from the original Star Trek series and refers to the fact that whenever an away party beamed down to an alien planet, there was generally one red-shirted crew member who got eaten/phasered/wasted by the bad guys. I hope that was educational for you. Next week I will explain the term ‘Jump the shark.’).