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    NRG Senior Member

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    Killing off the main characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by NRG, Jun 16, 2010.

    I'm not sure if this should be here or plot creation, it's a bit of both...

    I've finished planning my novel and just started writing it but something's occurred to me... Of all the characters in my book, four of them are police. Just a note, there are two antagonists, both equally important. One is the Madman, the other is the Countdown Killer.

    Lance Brown: The protagonist, main character. He's less experienced than the others but has a personal bone to pick the Madman. This drives him on throughout the story.

    James Barkers: James Barkers is an experienced lieutenant and has been investigating both the Madman and the Countdown Killer. At one point, it appears to Lance that Barkers has been executed by the Madman. He is known for doing anything to get the job done.

    Robert Ward: Ward is also a lieutenant and has worked with Barkers for years. They are great friends and have a bond as they've been through tough cases together before.

    Daniel York: York is an aggressive man. He is a lieutenant who mostly keeps to himself however he sometimes gets into fights with other men. He works with Lance and is introduced later in the story than the other characters.

    At the end of the novel, it is revealed that Barkers was not killed but rather faked his death so he could become the Countdown Killer (I won't bother explaining detail, but he was forced into buy the Madman). In a fight on a rooftop, York is killed. Lance and Barkers are badly wounded when they reach Barkers and Barkers stabs Lance in the stomach. Ward is already wounded and thus, is an easy target. Barkers kills Ward, his closest friend but this buys Lance and the other police arriving some time. Barkers is then revealed to have been killed (however he does survive).

    So, in that scene, i'm trying to make it emotional as three of the four main characters are killed, puppets of the Madman. As I said above, I have planned for Lance to survive. Now, I'm thinking since Ward has such a bond with Barkers, it would be more emotional for Ward to be the only survivor and therefore have time to swallow the fact that he was betrayed by his closest friend. The problem with this, is that Lance is the main character, so I'm not sure if it would work. Also, I don't want them both to survive, it wouldn't make sense at the very end.

    So what do you think? Would it be better to kill of Lance, the main character or Ward, the character who has a bond with the antagonist?
     
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    That's really only a question YOU could answer. I could see both scenarios working.

    However, from what you have said, it seems like you already know what you WANT to do. So do it like that. If you do something only because you think it will be more popular, you'll end up with something half-hearted. This is your story and if you think Ward should be the one to make it, go ahead. The main protagonist can die and many times does. Often the last man standing is somebody from the supporting cast. As long as it's well-written, I don't see a problem with whacking the main guy and keeping the last man standing as Ward. If that's what you want to do, then go ahead.

    Now, I am not saying Lance surviving couldn't also work. But it just doesn't sound to me like something you really want to do.(If I'm wrong, please say so) So my ultimate advice is to go with your writer's gut and do what feels right for the story.
     
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    NRG Senior Member

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    Thanks, I wasn't sure if the main character's death was a bad thing to have or not. I think I'll plan for both of these deaths and write the scene both ways before deciding, but I'll probably go with Ward being the survivor. Thanks very much!
     
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    ^^^^No problem. The main character dying is not something to be treated lightly, obviously. If it's done, it needs to be done right. But if you feel it's what needs to be done, then it is probably what is best for the story. I know I've killed off many characters that likely readers would've wanted to live. If you feel it that a character's death is called for, even if it might not be the most popular decision, sometimes you just gotta do it, even if it is the main protagonist of the story. (Things can't always have a happy ending for everyone afterall)

    I like the idea of writing out two scenes and seeing which you like better. It's a good way to make sure you're satisfied with your final decision. And if you are, then go with it. Ward surviving is something I can see based on what you tell me so I don't see why it's a problem if you write it correctly.
     

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