Friday, August 8, 2014

Killing Off Your Darlings

An interesting subject came up recently that I thought would be a good one to discuss on here. First of all: Spoiler alert for the Divergent trilogy books. Just in case, I wanted to say that.

After talking with a new writer about his manuscript that he's writing and his thoughts of killing off his main character and then remembering reading the Divergent trilogy the question is: should you kill off your protagonist?

I would imagine most people already know what happens at the end of the popular YA series. For me, I didn't like it, but it didn't upset me like a lot of people. I've read books where this happens but usually there is a lead up, such as a sickness, or accident. In any case, with the world being so stressful anymore, I think most readers want a happy ending.

Now should you consider this when writing your novel? Well, I think it depends. 

When the third book, Allegiant, came out, there were people leaving bad reviews on Amazon about the book. Now, that's not to say bad publicity can't be good sometimes, but quite a few readers were really upset. In fact, when they made the first movie people were saying they won't go to see it because of what happens.

We all know people die all the time, sometimes those we don't want to die, but nevertheless, it happens. But I believe in most books you can take the reader to the edge, like in the Harry Potter books, but don't push them all the way over.

Reading is an escape from the everyday humdrum of life, not to mention, the stress of life. You become vested in the characters you read and to see them killed off can be tough for some. 

It's true, quite a few secondary characters die, but people are more able to handle that. Although, I've had people make comments about our book Fable that they were glad Wood and Jack made it.

I know writers want to kill off their "darlings" for effect, but sometimes you can take that too far. If there is no lead up, from the beginning of the book, that the main character will die, then the shock can be overwhelming. So when you think about killing your characters, think about how it will affect your readers.

Did this ever happen to you? Did you read the Divergent trilogy? How did you feel when Tris died?

There probably will be deaths in our books, and not always the bad guy, but I will think before I kill them off.

I hope all of you have a nice weekend! We will be on a internet radio show this Saturday. If you get a chance call in and talk with us about Fable. We would love to hear from you! Skiweesbookcorner

Love, Lisa


  1. Hi Lisa, Very thought provoking post. As a kid, I didn't like anything related to the demise of a popular character. Now, it's different. The protagonist in the story I'm attempting to finish, will be killed off. I didn't know what to do with him in the end. Killing him off will give me a great ending. "Some times you gotta do, what you gotta do, pilgrim." Good read! Blessings.

    1. Well, like I said, it all depends on the book and the circumstances. Good luck with your book Johnny! I hope it is successful for you! ;-)