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Sarah Daffy

Have you ever killed your main protagonist?

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Posted (edited)

Thinking of doing this in my historical fiction. Thoughts?

Edited by Sarah Daffy

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6 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

If it's "historical," does it fit?

I'm trying to decide if I should do a permanent death or a "Disney death".  My main protagonist shows up right when the temporary antagonist is about to be punished for past misdeeds and takes the punishment, then maybe dies. Thoughts?

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Mine died at the end of the story. Sad, but nothing out of the ordinary. Just death by natural causes. Probably not an example that fits your situation. 🤔 

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I think I’d need more background info...

 

For starters, I’m not quite sure what a Disney Death is. Could someone elaborate before I vote?

 

Second, once your protagonist is gone, (assuming the story is from his point of view,) it’s essentially “Game Over.” The ending is likely to be abrupt, and not particularly happy/fun. Does that suit your story style?

 

Third, if the climatic moment of the story is your protagonist rescuing the antagonist from his just deserts, having the protagonist go on to die shortly after seems anticlimactic...unless he/she dies as a result of the attempted rescue?

 

But in the end, only you can decide what works for your story...

 

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6 minutes ago, Zee said:

Third, if the climatic moment of the story is your protagonist rescuing the antagonist from his just deserts, having the protagonist go on to die shortly after seems anticlimactic...unless he/she dies as a result of the attempted rescue?

 

But in the end, only you can decide what works for your story...

 

She was going to die as a result of taking the punishment.

 

7 minutes ago, Zee said:

 

For starters, I’m not quite sure what a Disney Death is. Could someone elaborate before I vote?

A Disney death is when you think the character dies, but they really do not. Disney often does this, hence, a "Disney death".

 

7 minutes ago, Zee said:

Second, once your protagonist is gone, (assuming the story is from his point of view,) it’s essentially “Game Over.” The ending is likely to be abrupt, and not particularly happy/fun. Does that suit your story style?

Can you continue the story from the antagonist's POV?

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8 hours ago, Sarah Daffy said:

Can you continue the story from the antagonist's POV?

Have you used the antagonist's POV earlier in the story?

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10 hours ago, Sarah Daffy said:

A Disney death is when you think the character dies, but they really do not. Disney often does this, hence, a "Disney death".

 

Can you continue the story from the antagonist's POV?

 

I think a Disney Death would be practically impossible to achieve if it’s happening to your POV character...I mean, she could feel she was dying, or be sure she was about to die, or go unconscious, but to convince your readers she’s actually died? Probably not, unless, like you said, you switch points of view.

 

You could switch to the antagonist after the protagonist has actually (or supposedly) died, but unless you’re writing other parts of the story also from the antagonist POV, I think this would be odd.

 

Besides, once your protagonist is out of the picture, your story is essentially done.

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My two cents worth: write both endings. Get a few beta readers. If you have enough, split them into 2 groups (one for each ending) and see how each one gets received. Or share both endings with your beta readers and take a vote from that. 

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If you’re not too far into writing the book, you could write from two people’s point of view. It’s what I did for my recent short story. No one died, but for your situation, it would help explain the “Disney death” from the other person’s perspective. 
 

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7 hours ago, carolinamtne said:

Have you used the antagonist's POV earlier in the story?

 

6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Yeah, that's a good thought, Sarah- what POV are you writing from?

Actually, no. It’s from the POV of the good guy. The antagonist is a secondary main character. 

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23 hours ago, Accord64 said:

Mine died at the end of the story. Sad, but nothing out of the ordinary. Just death by natural causes. Probably not an example that fits your situation. 🤔 

How did this work if your character was the main protagonist?

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59 minutes ago, Sarah Daffy said:

How did this work if your character was the main protagonist?

 

It was his memoir, and in an epilogue his literary agent writes of his passing (just before it went to publication). 

 

This guy was a national hero, so his passing was a big event (parade with full military honors).   

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1 minute ago, carolinamtne said:

What about an obituary at the end? Or a newspaper article?

Hmm. . .like an epilogue?

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1 minute ago, Sarah Daffy said:

Hmm. . .like an epilogue?

That would work!

 

My Oregon/Bozeman Trail book is a diary she worked on for about a year. Then she gave up on it. The last piece is written by her daughter, updating what happens to everyone in just a few paragraphs. 

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If you’re going to kill her off, it might work better if you keep her your protagonist (the one who sets the story in motion and keeps it rolling) but have someone else be the POV character. Then your protagonist  can die without having to stress about “Ok...who’s telling the story now?”

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4 minutes ago, Zee said:

If you’re going to kill her off, it might work better if you keep her your protagonist (the one who sets the story in motion and keeps it rolling) but have someone else be the POV character. Then your protagonist  can die without having to stress about “Ok...who’s telling the story now?”

Well, that would work, but she has to be the POV character for several reasons.

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7 hours ago, Sarah Daffy said:

Well, that would work, but she has to be the POV character for several reasons.

 

If she’s not the only POV character in the story, then it’s probably ok to switch to another POV character at the end,  but if she’s been the only POV character throughout, then I think introducing a new one right at the end would just be too jarring.

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This is a very interesting question. Thank you, everyone, for your insights. @Sarah Daffy You will have to be at the top of your writing craft to pull it off. We look forward to reading. Knowing the ending will make it even more suspenseful!  

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I'm a big Robert Heinlein fan and he never had any trouble killing off a character. Made his writing more real to me!

 

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