Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D for Death of a Main Character

...or Should You Kill Your Protagonist?

Courtesy of Jim R Stephenson Photography

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! You can visit the A to Z Homepage HERE.

There are a number of situations in which it is okay for the protagonist to die. The reasons vary, depending on whether the story is based on a real or fictional character, the time frame of the story and other considerations.

With fictional characters, it all depends on the author's future plans. If there is a series, and the author decides to end it, then he/she may allow the protagonist to die. That way, the story line ends. Sometimes this happens when the author does not want anyone else to continue the stories with his character after he/she is gone. Sometimes it happens when an author is tired of these characters and wants to move on.

Some stories are written so the protagonist dies a heroic death, fighting the antagonist. Other stories have the protagonist die and are reborn. In some stories, the death of the protagonist leads to another plane of existence. One writer of a fantasy series had the protagonist die in the beginning and the story revolves around his adventures in the world he enters.

So there are numerous situations in which it is acceptable for your protagonist to die. Besides, if you want to revive your character later, you can either write a prequel, or, if you can think of a logical and plausible way to do it, show that your character really did not die. It was just the readers perception at the time!


  1. AH! Very interesting post! I'm a new follower from the IWSG, but I'm also doing the AtoZ. Nice to meet you!

  2. I'm all for killing off characters but I don't know if I can bear to kill of my protagonist:P you bring up some interesting points though. Great A-Z post!

  3. My husband told me to quit killing my characters. lol It's something I haven't done in awhile. But it can be very dramatic.

  4. Some examples that come to mind are Hamlet (dead for real) and Sherlock Holmes (resurrected by popular demand!)

    I once wrote a short story in which my protagonist died at the end. The funny thing was, it was narrated from his point of view, so the story ended as soon as his life did. :)

    - Lauren @Word Art

  5. I'm all about this. In fact, my D posts on the last 2 years' A-Z challenges have been about Death in fiction, and how it's sometimes necessary to kill main characters, even your protagonist. If it serves a purpose and it follows the natural progression of the story, then why not?

    Jamie Gibbs
    Fellow A-Z Buddy
    Mithril Wisdom

  6. Interesting post!

  7. Margo: Welcome! It took me a minute to figure out the initials IWSG, but it finally sunk in! That's growing by leaps and bounds. I'm glad you joined the A to Z as well. Its really been fun so far. I like meeting new people.

    Nutschell: I've only killed of two protagonists and one after a series and I was ready to see him disappear. But, his son came along to continue the series.

    M.Pax: I imagine it's more startling for the reader than the creator of the story.

    Lauren: That's interesting to write from the POV of a protagonist that dies. I'm curious as to how you ended the story.

    Jamie: I didn't do the A to Z last year and death of a protagonist was my daughters idea. I thought it was something to explore and have learned some good ideas.

    Susanne: Thank you! It left me with ideas for another type of story.

  8. Stopping by from the challenge - hello from another karen

  9. Karen: Welcome! I'm glad you could visit! I hope your challenge is as fun as mine has been. I've met some great people with interesting blogs.

  10. That's a very interesting topic to really hear about from other authors, especially to see how they handle death in thier own stories. I have a character integral to my story die part way through, but he was such a fun character, that I had to start learning more about him. Now he has his own prequel planned! :)

    1. What an interesting way to ressurect a character. I like that!

      I wish I knew where your blog was, I'd visit you!

    2. Thanks you! I just started my blog, so I'm hoping to make it a habit to update it at least once a week. ^^ :)