Sunday, October 12, 2014
Why NOT To Kill Off a Main Character
I love killing off main characters in my story - it's that moment of surprise, and sometimes if done just right, a complete shock for my readers. It's also fun and exciting - you get to plan a death without being a murderer *evil laugh*.
All silliness aside, even though it can be just perfect to kill off one of your characters there is still many reasons not to.
The first question is.... why? Is it for the element of surprise only? Is it simply because you feel like it? You need a better reason. I can get caught up in the element of surprise as well - it's fun and well... surprising. The thing is though, you can really make your readers hate the story if that's the only reason you can think of. You need a purpose and a goal. Perhaps that character's work is done and they've done their duty for your story, or perhaps it's to bring another character to reality. Maybe it will bring another character closer to someone because of the death. ALWAYS have a reason, otherwise a reader may just put down your book.
Killing off a main character is also very risky. I know I tend to always go to this, but in the show Robin Hood BBC, (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN ALL THE SHOW YET), the writers made Marian die. It was not only heartbreaking, but it brought down the rating in the show, and though it wasn't a book, it still is a pretty good example. You will have to not only have a good reason for saying adios to a character, but also do it in a way that your story will continue to flow. You just make one of your main characters die, and you must ask, "what now?".
Killing off a main character makes the death so much more significant - will you add another character to take his or her place, and by doing that how will that effect your story?
A "good" death is hard to create and before taking the plunge ask...
"Who is dying?" Really just let it sink in.... your character is leaving. For good. They can't come back (unless it's fantasy).
"For what?" Why is this happening?
"When?" Think about the "when" in the story. Plan it out or just write it out and then edit it to best fit your story later on after your first draft.
"Where?" Where shall this death take place?
"Why?"This pretty much speaks for itself
"How?" And so does this... ☺
And sometimes looking over how much you may loose by the death, you may just want to keep your character alive.