1. k0mbine
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    k0mbine New Member

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    Would it be 'edgy' or 'innovative' if the main character dies and the story goes on?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by k0mbine, Apr 7, 2012.

    When the main character dies in the middle of the book, and a supporting character takes the role of narrator.
    Example, when there's a hero and he unexpectedly gets killed by the villain, and the villain goes on narrating. I was wondering if it has been done before.
     
  2. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't recall coming across it.

    You could give it a try and if turns out that you are not happy with it, you could use third person.

    Welcome to the forums.
     
  3. k0mbine
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    k0mbine New Member

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    I guess I could give it a whirl. Thank you.
     
  4. Just Jon
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    Just Jon Member

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    Fascinating.

    Or what if it happens over and over in the book and the last point of view is third person after everyone is dead. A murder mystery perhaps? Twelve people trapped in a spooky old haunted house and each one is mysteriously murdered, as the perspective shifts to the next victim. And then there were none. :D
     
  5. k0mbine
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    k0mbine New Member

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    Absolutely brilliant, my good man. Well, brilliant if it hasn't been done before. No, of course not, it's much too brilliant.
     
  6. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Murder story, yes. But there will be no mystery after a couple of victims. The readers will figure out the one with the present perspective is going to die next. There goes your mystery ;)
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is possible to have a character who is dead as the MC. What about 'Rebecca'? The (dead) Rebecca is the MC that the whole plot revolves around, but the narraror is the second (living) wife--actually, we never even find out the second wife's name.
    IMO, I don't think it would work if the MC dies less than 2/3 of the way through and then becomes unimportant to the plot, though. I'd find that an annoying cop-out, not cutting edge.
     
  8. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    So Agatha Christie got it wrong then - I don't think so.
     
  9. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    I was wondering this myself. It would be interesting and I can't say I've seen it done before, but there's probably a reason for that.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Not a bit. I kill off my lead character in the first chapter.

    When I tell this to people I always joke, "But it made writing the second chapter more difficult..."

    I've come to the conclusion that sometimes you really do have to 'suspend belief.' And this was a minor leap, from my point of view. The circumstance for the lead was common in life.

    If your lead's death moves the plot along, I say do the same thing I recommend when my wife goes in for a routine check-up. I tell the doctor I consent to having him pull the plug.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The reader will be left wondering, and rightly so, why you chose that character to start out as the main character.

    Stunts don't make for good storytelling. Maybe you do have a good reason for changing the focus so drastically in mid-book. But if you're doing it just to be different, that's a cheap stunt.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Well, in my case it's not a stunt. If the lead doesn't die we have no story--on three levels.

    The OP might be facing the same juncture. I don't see why the story has to end at a traditional place. I would be more concerned if an ancillary character "accidentally" finds a time-machine in the guy's garage or has his still warm corpse get bitten by a sympathetic vampire.

    My grandfather, 93 years old, took up with a 26 year old college TA and proposed to her. My Aunt Clara asked him if he had considered death. He responded, "If she dies, she dies."

    I think that applies to the OP, as well.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The MC need not be the POV character. Better to choose a POV character who can carry the tale through to the end.
     
  14. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Hmmm. I can see the point, but I just don't like the overall idea.

    My lead has a best friend. I'm trying my best not to just paint that character as a 'sidekick' or perpetual wing-man. I want him fully formed, an equal and vital to the story.

    I understand that in any group, there's a guy who's "the heart" and often holds court. I know the story needs to be told. However, 'Two and a Half Men' went on, why not the OP's story?
     
  15. k0mbine
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    k0mbine New Member

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    What if the MC in the first place is a slob and you make the reader hate him, but still read on (to see his shenanigans or something), then he finally dies, but the story goes on?
     
  16. agentkirb
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    The only advice I really have on the issue is that if you do this, there needs to be a good reason to do this rather than "I just want to see if I can pull it off". No one is going to read a book like this and think "well, the plot was bad, but he switched PoVs in the middle of the story so I can appreciate the originality". If you write something in 3rd person, there should be a good reason to do so. Same with 1st person. Don't just do things because it's different.
     
  17. RowenaFW
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    Actually, having a think, I do this in two stories.

    One is very deliberate - the main character "tells" the story (but in the 3rd person) for 2/3 of the book, then drops dead, and her husband takes over. The book is veyr much about their relationship and personalities so the switch in viewpoint completes the perspective, as well as making a horrific beginning to the end. It isn't the best story and most of it isn't written.

    The other one is where I have two main characters. Part I and III are told by Jo (1st person) and part II by Cate. Part I and III move seamlessly from one to the other (could be a whole story written by Jo, buy you need information from Cate to make everything Jo sees meaningful), part II overlaps extensively with both parts I and III, but starts a little later and ends a little sooner, and is obv a bit briefer. At the end of part II, Cate takes an overdose and crawls inside a washing machine drum. Towards the end of part III Jo discovers her body. But this is very complicated - the character dies 2/3 through and she also dies at the end - and she is one of two mc. I don't know how your story is constructed, but I think construction plays a major part in whether that would work, as well as what kind of story it is.
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This works. Like Dr. Watson is to Sherlock Holmes.

    In response to the OP: I've seen narrative POVs change drastically before, but usually in short stories. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a novel I've read that has done that. Maybe the movie Psycho is a model. You start off following the Janet Leigh character, but she dies partway through and then you realize the movie isn't about her.
     
  19. live2write
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    What would be innovative is if the main character writes the story and after he/she dies the enemy picks up from where it left off. Almost like a found story that you want to keep writing about. I am not talking about fan fiction where you take a story and extend it but what will end up happening is there will be two main characters and two different stories. You have to tie it in somehow
     
  20. MVP
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    Something similar has been done before, recall the famed shower scene from Psycho, which gives way to the new MCs.
     
  21. agentkirb
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    Also... if this is a big issue juggling it all together and having it make sense. It would be easy enough to do the whole thing in third person. I've read a few crime suspense books where they switch between different perspectives throughout the book. Actually the book "The DaVinci Code" (the one that was turned into a movie some years ago) does this, switching from the main character to different bad guys from chapter to chapter. It's all done in third person and no one is confused because usually the first paragraph of the new perspective tells you who's PoV it's from. Your first line could start "Rob was looking at the scene from his car." and the reader immediately knows that this part of the story is done from the PoV of Rob. Doing the same thing in first person would be very difficult because the same context clues can't be naturally written in.
     
  22. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel that people are confusing Main Character, Point of View, and Narrator here.

    -A main character can be dead at the start of the book, or die any time. However, the plot continues to revolve around them. That is why they are the/a MC.
    -There can be more than one POV in a novel, or even in a chapter. The POV may or may not be a MC.
    -The narrator does not have to be an MC, but has (obviously) to be witness to most of the events. There can be more than one narrator in a novel, e.g. a crime novel where toward the end, there is a chapter with each witness giving their story. There can also be a mixture of a POV character and a narrator, e.g. someone finds letters in an attic. The novel combines the POV story and extracts of the letters...

    In other words, there are many different approaches, but, certainly for a novice writer, it is wiser to stick with 1-2 POV, and if a narrator is needed, one is usually best. If you switch narrator, you had better have a decent reason. The most important MC should have a presence of some sort throughout the work.

    Of course, this is my personal opinion, based on my own writing struggles over the years, and my observation of works that have been successful (and I don't just mean financially successful). And there are always exceptions, I am making a generalisation.
     
  23. Question
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    Are you telling the story from first person? I've seen multiple examples of this done with third person narrative, where the main character dies and a side character take over as main character. Though this could be interesting if it's in first person, not quite sure how you could do it(I guess it would have to be in present tense).
     

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