“Should I kill off my protagonist?” This is a question that many aspiring writers ask themselves and sometimes they can’t decide whether they should or not.
Is it bad to kill off your protagonist? Not necessarily, but it isn’t good either. Killing off your protagonist is most often seen as a cruel thing for a writer to do. If you make your readers fall in love with your protagonist, even for just one book, not to mention a whole series, and then kill them, it’ll sit badly with your readers. They could very well hate you for it. So killing off your protagonist shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Someone once asked me when it is ever okay to kill off your protagonist, if at least for shock value. That question and my response spawned this post . . .
If you’re writing a series, the right time to let an antagonist win is when you don’t want to continue it anymore. Killing off the protagonist is an effective way to bring the series to a close. It is also a very drastic option to choose. There are other ways to end a book or series if you no longer wish to write about that protagonist anymore, especially if you’re not sure if killing off your protagonist is okay.
One option is a “happily ever after” ending that I was talking about in my previous post. Why not let your protagonist live and live happily instead? This type of ending may not be shocking, but it’ll serve its purpose. Another option is to let the antagonist win in whatever way fits your story, but at the same time you let your protagonist keep his/her life.
If you don’t plan to write a sequel and are going for shock value then letting the antagonist win will do the job perfectly. There is nothing more shocking then when a much-loved protagonist is killed by the evil bastard who has been out to get him/her during the course of the book. It all depends on the writer though and the story you are telling. If you don’t care for “happily ever afters” and want to end your book like ripping off a band aid then this tactic is the one for you.
Before you kill of your protagonist though you need to make sure it makes sense to the story line. You can't just kill off a character for shock value. There has to be a reason for it. If your story calls for the death of the protagonist, if there is no other logical way to end your story, then do it.
In the end, the decision to kill off your protagonist is yours to make. Think on it for a while and then stand by your choice.
QUESTION: Could you ever kill off your protagonist? Have you??