Monday, April 13, 2015

{WR} Killing Off A Main Character--Yes? No? Maybe So? {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

I was hopping around the blog verse on Saturday and came across someone who talked about Harry Potter and asked what our favorite scenes were. I couldn't pick just one, but the quote and scene she talked about was when Snape showed Dumbledore his patronus.

SPOILER ALERT for Harry Potter and the book "One Day" by David Nicholls.

This got me thinking about when Dumbledore died. How I cried at that scene but knew it had to happen. However, in my opinion,  JK Rowling did what she had to do and I could see the value in it especially when everything was revealed at the very end.

Now, we are to the letter "K" and I was thinking about the books where killing off a main character has worked and where it hasn't. One book in particular had me so pissed off if I didn't revere books, I would have hauled it across the room at the wall. "One Day" by David Nicholls was a pretty good read until the very end where Em, the main female character, gets hit by a car and dies. I could not believe it...what was he thinking? I couldn't see past the fog of my own sadness and anger as to why Nicholls chose to do end the book that way.  I will not be able to read it again and I didn't see the movie.

Another book, that I admittedly didn't read but my kids did, was the third book in the "Divergent"series. They told me who died in that one and all three of my kids were pretty angry and upset; I have no idea if it fit into the story line or not as I only read the first two.

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" has a similar theme as well and I'm still trying to make up my mind about a main character dying in that book. And I read it over five years ago!

In my series, "Lane Changes", I was hit one day with the thought: "I have to kill off a character" and I tried to avoid it. I really did but in the end it had to happen. For three days I wrote this person's death scene to certain songs and I cried. I was slightly depressed I had to do after I got the scene down I stopped writing for a few days to recover. Then I went back and each time I read that scene, the ones before and after it I realized..this is what has to happen! I don't cry, but I do tear up, when I read/edit it now. I wonder what my publisher will think when she gets to that part?

Have you ever come across a book where a major character was killed off? Do you think it worked? Why or why not?


  1. The Fault in our Stars is one such ironical sad story about illness as powerful as cancer, teenage awkwardness to death and the main character and her love interest dying bit by bit.
    And next is the Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank.
    Of course it worked in the above said as the reason behind loving to hate the death of the main character in a fiction or a non-fiction depends on how easily we follow the character's style make us want him or her more. It is as if we want them to continue wondering in their own life like an endless Anne of Green Gables. We want the characters to struggle and shake it off but when they die we hate to loose every hope of new possible struggles and their solutions which might be handy for us!

    Good post :)

    1. Thank you for your comment! "Fault in Our Stars" had me laughing and crying. You knew it was coming, so you could be prepared although I did hold out hope that there'd be a 'miracle' cure, you know? Anne of my 'favorite' non fiction, real life stories. Even when I read it in 4th grade I knew how brave and courageous she and her family were...and she became the face of such a horrible time period but also one of hope.

  2. Dumbldore and Snape, even though at the time we still thought Snape was a bad guy when he died.

    Stephen Tremp
    an A-Z Cohost
    @StephenTremp on Twitter

  3. I read tons of books when I was a teen where the protagonist was sick with some terminal disease, and of course, they ALWAYS died, albeit with nobility and courage.

    More than a character, the death of David Foster Wallace continues to send sharp pangs of grief into me every time I read something he wrote.

    Very interesting page. I love your blog.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Susan! Admittedly I had to look up who Wallace was so now I am intrigued.I saw he wrote a book called "Infinite Jest" which my History loving teen son may like and may come in handy in college. Thanks for the info!

  4. I had to kill off a character in one of the stories I wrote. But it was the point of the story almost. I couldn't see how it would end any other way. As for any books I read that ended that way. I once read a biography on Abraham Lincoln.I couldn't believe he died at the end. Wait does that count? Okay, just kidding about that one.
    Still, I agree with you on writing the death scenes. In my store it was hard for me to write. Mostly because I had just lost my father to cancer. As for your question, some times it works, some times it doesn't. I guess it depends on how senseless the death is.

  5. I don't like to see the main characters get killed off. I have too much invested in them, and I don't like to be sad. I did have a supporting character die in my story, and I cried when I wrote the scene. There are times when I can see why a character might need to be killed off, but I still don't like it. I want to be entertained when I read and those kinds of scenes can be traumatizing.