Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Killing your protagonist, is it ever okay? by Jenn McKinlay

Scene: Me, banging my head on desk, and Hub stepping into the thick of it.

Hub: How’s the writing going?
Me: It’s not. I think I’m going to kill off (insert main character who is annoying me here) and call it a day.
Hub: I may wrong but I think your readers might be upset, like, really upset.
Me: But I just don’t see any other way out of this story.

Full disclosure: I haven’t killed off any of my characters but I can see where an author can be driven to murder.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in the short story “The Final Problem”. Why? Because he was tired of writing about Holmes and wanted to focus on his other writing. He said Holmes “kept his mind from better things”, which he considered his historical fiction to be. Readers were unhappy -- understatement, one woman wrote him a letter calling him a “brute” -- and so pressured Doyle brought Holmes back in “The Adventure of the Empty House”.



I share this story with you only because it’s common knowledge, so hopefully no spoiler but also because Doyle brought him back so even if it is a spoiler, it all comes out okay in the end.

True confession: I’ve read series where an author kills off a beloved main character (a certain YA series leaps to mind, as well as a San Diego amateur sleuth series about a psychic and a detective that I adored) and as a reader I was, well, I’m not going to cotton ball it – I was furious and hurt and vowed never to read these authors again! What can I say? I get emotionally invested in characters and I can be overly dramatic sometimes.

So, while I understand the decision to kill off a character as an author, I am also aware of the betrayal felt by the reader – yes, this awareness has stayed my hand a couple of times. You’re welcome.


How about you, Reds, have you ever thought it was time to kill off a protagonist? How do you feel about it as a reader? Readers, how do you feel when an author kills off a beloved character?

114 comments:

  1. Funny you should ask, Jenn . . . as a reader, I often find myself quite invested in the characters in a story. If it’s a stand-alone, and the story demands it, go ahead.
    However, if it’s an ongoing series in which, over time, I have come to find myself thoroughly involved in the characters’ stories, well, that’s an entirely different matter.
    When an author killed one of the main characters in a long-running series I had been reading since the first book, I stopped reading that author’s books. Couldn’t take the chance of another ongoing story drawing me in, investing me what happens to the characters, only to have the rug pulled out from beneath me with absolutely no warning.

    Not that a warning would have helped . . . .

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    1. I’m with you, Joan. There are trust issues involved!

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    2. I’m with you, Joan. There are trust issues!

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    3. Yes, Jenn, it did feel like a betrayal of my trust . . . but I think what Julia said is the heart of the issue. It wasn’t a culmination of circumstances that inevitably led to the death, it didn’t move the story forward . . . it was just suddenly there --- and all it did was make everyone sad [and moved a character to a new location].

      And, even if it is a daring move for an author, it threw me for a loop. Despite the complexity of the stories told over so many books, the seemingly unjustifiable decision destroyed my involvement with the characters and I could no longer bring myself to return to those stories . . . .

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  2. I have read some series where characters I loved were killed off. I hate it. It hasn't stopped me from continuing on with that author, but I reserve the right to stop reading an author because of it in the future.

    I should mention that the authors who leap to mind when I think about this were not cozy mystery writers. I know some series where this has happened, but none I can think of that I read, at least right now.

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    1. Cozies are a safe bet, but you never know...we authors all have rough days. LOL.

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  3. Elizabeth George did it. I won't go beyond that because it would be a spoiler if someone hasn't read the book. I felt betrayed, but didn't stop reading the series because of the way George portrayed the death affecting the remaining regulars in the series. I wonder, though, if she lost readers. I suspect she did.

    Rather than kill off my characters (who I sometimes suspect would like to kill me off) I put them through life changes or career changes. It's so much easier than having to bring them back from the dead (cue the shower scene from Dallas)!

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    1. That's why I don't read Elizabeth George any more. I'm STILL furious.

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    2. I like the career/life change option, Kait. Much easier to manage as a reader.

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    3. I may be in the minority, but I thought it was great that Elizabeth George had the courage to kill off that particular character! It was a bold move. As series writers, we have to guard against getting too complacent and killing a character certainly isn't complacent. I also really didn't like that character so I wasn't sad to see her go. ;)

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    4. I realize this is going to sound heartless but,,,,she needed to go. One way or another. Apologies those who liked her.

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    5. Though that death upset me, I didn't give up on Elizabeth George until a few books later when I came to the conclusion she couldn't bear to see a main character happy. I felt as though every time one of her key protagonists came close to happiness, she felt she had to make something awful happen. A few times of doing that added up to a breach of trust in my book.

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    6. Susan, I feel the same way about Elizabeth George. I stayed with her for a few more books, but there is never even the semblance of a happy ending. And my life is dark enough these days without reading about others' tragic lives.

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  4. As a devoted reader of series, I have been shocked/devastated when an author kills off a main protagonist!

    Kait mentioned Elizabeth George and I also kept reading the next few books for the same reason but eventually stopped. Another author who killed off a main protagonist was Karin Slaughter. Again, I read the next few books to see how the death was dealt with. In her case, Karin branched out into other series, and I have switched over to reading those.

    I hope the Reds are not considering killing off any of their series' characters anytime soon!

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    1. Grace - no killings from JRW — that I know of at any rate. Just thinking out loud here. I like that you stayed with the series(es).

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    2. Grace, I was one of the many readers who was shocked when Karin Slaughter killed off a central protagonist. On the one hand, it was a daring thing to do as a writer. On the other, I didn't feel it was the start of a really big change for the other Central Character who was most affected by the death, other than to make CC miserable.

      Being unhappy can be a strong catalyst for a character to make changes, kicking the plot into high gear. On the other hand, keeping characters miserable just because (have you ever noticed every single female in Slaughter's books has been sexually abused?)is lazy.

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    3. Karin Slaughter is who came to mind in reference to an email I started writing to a favorite mystery writer today after finishing her latest this afternoon. I stopped reading Karin Slaughter because she killed off that character and I was also getting sick of all the drama, so the death clinched it for me. On the other hand, there is more than one way to kill off a character and it's not always a physical death. Two things that make for lazy writing in my book -- too much soap opera drama, and "killing" a character.

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  5. I haven't killed off any main characters, but have made a couple of early love interests fade to black when another took over. I would think the only reason to kill off a protagonist was if a series was ending.

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    1. It’s a tough call, Edith. I don’t think I’d kill off a main at a series end because that’s it for the reader, which would feel like a big loss. If the series goes on at least they can process the loss. Does that make sense?

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    2. Absolutely. I've had only one series end, and I left everybody together and happy at the end, so I felt good about it - and I think my readers did, too.

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  6. I remember abandoning one series because the author killed off the love interest, and it wasn't even a part of the crime at the heart of the book. From where I was sitting, it looked like the relationship was headed in a healthy direction and the author decided she'd either have to let the protagonist and the love interest have a life together, or hew to the old rule that main characters can't have a love life and kill the lover off. I've always thought the whole "no romance for serious detectives" rule was deeply flawed and just lame, and when it was applied so arbitrarily it killed the whole series for me. I'm not sure I've seen that author on the shelves lately, so it might have been a career killer for her, as well.

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    1. I agree, Gigi, I think it can be a career killer. And I’ve always felt that a detective with a strong love interest had more to lose which raised the stakes on their investigation.

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    2. Life is a lot more complicated when you have more than yourself to worry about. You're absolutely right about that.

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    3. Perfectly stated, Gigi! I too have abandoned a series for this type of thing. I get if it's part of the storyline and the love interest is the casualty but "just because". Nope. Random death happens in life, true, but if I wanted to read about that I'd read a true crime novel. I also agree with your statement about "no romance for serious detectives" rule. It's just not realistic. Sure their lifestyle makes romance more challenging but it's not impossible.

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  7. Killing off a main character - well, yes it happens - and as a devoted series reader, I've certainly experienced it (in both the series mentioned above KS and EG). And I can think of a couple of more that I won't mention. At the time, I was so, so sad. However, I continue reading the series. I can see how that's part of having characters grow and change - it's like life. Sometimes, bad things happen. It's not wonderful, but the characters can make it through it. As sad as it makes me when a character dies, sometimes I think some characters hang on too long and that's annoying too. If it has a purpose besides 'drama', it can reflect and cause growth in the characters. Just my opinion. LOL

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    1. Sometimes it’s important for character growth but sometimes I think the author is just stuck - very hard to say. I suppose it is all in the execution - no pun intended.

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    2. You're so right, Kay. Like real life, sometimes bad things happen! It can be interesting to see how the characters handle the loss. Although I have to admit I don't like when it happens! With regard to Karin Slaughter, I think her "letter to the reader" explaining the decisions she made about the death of a main character helped me understand why it had to happen for the overall story arc she had in mind. It made her just as sad as it did her readers!

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  8. Elizabeth George did it...horrible when it happened, and it changed the protagonist's whole perspective on life and career. But I read her books for Barbara Havers, who is a much more interesting character.

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    1. So a strong cast overall helps - I am noting this in case I ever have to kill off a character. I have an octogenarian in one book who is becoming like Stephanie Plum’s 25 yr old hamster. He’ll be 107 before the series ends - I hope!

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  9. I can take it (sniff), if the death is compelling and central to the plot. I may hurtle the book across the room or require a bit of time to compose myself, but I won't give up on an author whose work can affect me that deeply. However, if in my opinion the death of a character seems to be tactical--'oh, lets show how deeply wounded by grief our hero is and then we can give him a series of inappropriate love affairs followed by a quirky new love interest as he comes back to life', then I feel like the author took the easy way out. Not to name any names.

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    1. Agreed, Flora, it has to be authentic not tactical!

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    2. I agree also but I just had to reply to tell you I laughed out loud at the imagery of you hurtling the book across the room! LOL. Been there. Done that.

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    3. LOL.. I absolutely do the same thing when the "book" makes me angry.... Like Flora, I get very involved with those characters!

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    4. LOL.. I absolutely do the same thing when the "book" makes me angry.... Like Flora, I get very involved with those characters!

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  10. I stopped reading Karin Slaughter's series after she killed off one of the two main characters. I had always found one of the two interesting and the other irritating and she killed the one I found interesting, so that was that. If the other character had died, I probably would have stayed with it. So, a very personal reaction that says nothing about the quality of the story, I guess.



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    1. Very interesting, Christine. We do form different relationships with individual characters. I’d have a hard time choosing a main character to kill off - the guilt, I don’t think I could bear it.

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  11. Kill of your main series character at your peril. And only if you have Barbara Haves in your back pocket.

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  12. Is it possible to change the story so you do not have to kill off the main character? Or can it be similar to Inspector Closeueau where the Inspector shows up at his own funeral where many people are crying, thinking that the Inspector died? Is it possible to make it look like the main character died then bring back the character at the end "surprise" the character did not die? Or could the character come back as a ghost?

    Killing off a main character tells me that there will not be a next book.

    Diana

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    1. I love all of your alternatives, Diana! Very clever!

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    2. I was thinking about these movies and a British series Delicious. Thank you.

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  13. It is interesting that we all immediately recalled the backlash that Elizabeth George received when she killed off a secondary character that was loved by many fans. It rarely goes well.

    But then Ann Cleeves did something very similar and I don't recall hearing about her getting as much negative feedback - I'm sure folks were upset - but the Elizabeth George fans traveled to her house and left the books on her lawn (as I recall). Maybe it helps that Ann was more difficult to find, esp when in the Shetland Islands. ;)

    Truth is, if it serves the story and feels truthful, nothing is off the table for me (as a reader). I place my faith in the author and hope that they respect that relationship. Sometimes that means difficult things need to happen, but it must be organic. That doesn't mean I will be cheering when it happens, but I also know that a drastic decision like that opens many doors to new dramatic action.

    I suspect I know which YA series you are speaking of Jenn, and in that particular case not only was the death unexpected, it didn't feel honest to the rest of that girl's journey. At least to me. Like you, I will think twice before reading another book from this particular author.

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    1. Thank you, Kristopher, for validating my upset over that one. My son and I were gutted over it mostly because it felt so manufactured and unnecessary - oh, look at me - still mad. LOL.

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    2. I expected the Cleeves character to go as soon as the relationship developed. And when it happened I was more mad than sorrowful. I don't like it when characters are denied happiness just for the sake of keeping them "broken."

      Mary/Liz

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  14. I've considered killing off a beloved secondary character, but decided there wasn't any other reason, really, than to make the rest of my cast feel sad. Not good enough, in my book. Literally.

    I did have an important secondary character take a job elsewhere, but it felt organic after his actions in that particular novel. (No, I'm not talking about Kevin. He'll be back.)

    I've allowed one-off character to die, but again, their deaths were necessary to what I was trying to say in the story. I've cried when writing some of those scenes, which I feel is good - if I'm affected by the sorrow, my readers will be as well. And again, there's a BIG difference in reader reaction - if I feel sad reading about a character's death, it was organic. If I find myself saying, "What!! I can't BELIEVE she did that!!," not so much.

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    1. I think you nailed it, Julia. I think writing for shock value instead of character development is a lousy thing to do to readers - there should be some foreshadowing if a character is going to die otherwise, it’s just a toilet full of snakes - yeah, no idea where that image came from but I think it fits. LOL.

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    2. I love Kevin, Julia. So glad he will be sticking around.

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    3. Julia, I can just see you weeping over your computer when killing off your character. Reminds me of the beginning scene of "Romancing the Stone," with Kathleen Turner blowing her nose on post-its because she'd used all the kleenex, toilet tissue and even paper towels as she was writing her latest book.

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    4. Kevin is coming back! Good!

      DebRo

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  15. I agree with what Kristopher said. Very little is off the table for me, as long as it's handled well, i.e. serves the story and shows the other characters' growth. However, that being said, EG did not kill off a protagonist. I was sad at the death of that character as I liked her, but if she had killed off Lynley, or especially Havers, I would most likely have stopped reading.

    It's funny that this topic should come up today because this appears to have happened in the book I'm reading now. It's the author's first, and I'm not sure if it will be part of a series, but she seems to have killed off one of what I considered to be the two protagonists. It looks pretty definite that the character is dead, but I'm still hoping against hope that it's not the case. I'm only about halfway through, and the reviews stated that there were lots of unexpected twists, so I'll have to see what happens. If the character is indeed dead, I think I will feel somewhat cheated, depending on what else happens in the rest of the book.

    In my own writing, I have killed off non-regular characters, but there are also those that have lived because I couldn't bear to kill them off, as I'd gotten too attached to them while writing about them.

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    1. MaryC - I know what you mean. I've had characters that were supposed to die and yet four books later, they're still there. I do get attached.

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  16. I think it also depends on how many books there are in the series. The longer the series has been going, the more the writer may be looking for ways to invigorate it, and people do die, so it's not an unnatural option.

    I still have too much I want to do with my characters to kill any of them off. And I would miss each of them. Even the horrible, annoying ones!

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    1. Wonderful to hear that you have many plots to turn on Fina and crew! Yay!

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  17. Obviously I haven't killed off a protagonist yet. I think I'd have to have a really, REALLY compelling reason to bump off a main character or a significant secondary character. I can see some readers calling it quits over that, so it's a serious consideration.

    As a reader...well, it depends. There are some I can deal with (I'm sorry, I will mourn Fred Weasley and Remus Lupin until I die myself, but I still read the books). There are others where I just can't. I stopped reading George R.R. Martin because every time I became invested in a character, that character died. Bah.

    Joss Whedon is another who pulled the rug out from under me ("I'm a leaf on the wind."). If I haven't completely forgiven him I can at least still watch. And mourn.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Fred - ugh. That crushed me. I watched the YouTube short of GOT narrated by Samuel L Jackson. (Paraphrasing) He said, "This is the Stark family. Don't get attached." Ha! Still, makes me laugh.

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  18. I am dreading the day that Louise Penny kills off one of our favorites from Three Pines. It's really only a matter of time and it won't make the loss any easier. But I doubt any of us would stop reading her because of that.

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    1. But she did kill off a Three Pines regular, several books back. I was shocked, but not devastated, since I didn't much care for them. But I think other people did.

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    2. On the one hand, you are absolutely correct, Kristopher, on all counts. On the other, BITE YOUR TONGUE!! Don't put an idea like that out into the universe!!!! ;-)

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    3. I keep expecting Ruth to die because she's so old, but I would really miss her. I sort of miss the village resident who died a couple of books back. It was not someone I was fond of, but it was interesting to observe that character's interactions with others.

      DebRo

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  19. I agree that it would be different for a character to die in a standalone versus a series. And I would be okay (unhappy, but understanding) with a recurring character being killed but I don't think I'd like it to be the *main* character. I mean, if there is a series about a particular sleuth and one of her closest friends/allies were to die, I would be sad and in mourning but would keep going to see how the main character dealt with and kept on. But if it were the main character, I would feel a little let down (and I would assume it was the end of the series). It doesn't generally work well on TV and I think it's way worse in a book.

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    1. Per TV - Didn't they kill off Magnum P.I. and had to bring him back? I agree, Amy, that series is tougher than stand alone.

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  20. The new wife of the protagonist was killed in a series I like a lot, by a greatly admired writer. It seemed so pointless - I suspected the author was bored - and it did change my interest in the books. Context has something to do with reader reactions, I would think. In some settings, like a war, people die and it's unreal to pretend otherwise. Who remembers Colonel Blake in MASH on tv? In others, a shocking death of an important character seems arbitrary and disorienting.

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    1. I caught the MASH episode on reruns as a teen and was still shocked, but it worked.

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  21. i haven't read Eliabeth George since. Debs killed a pretty important character in a book. I was shocked but it worked and it was brilliant. I guess that is the answer. If it furthers the story and makes sense. However killing off a protagonist would be suicide!

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    1. I think it could be career suicide if it doesn't serve a purpose. I always wonder if the editor/producer (the person behind the writer) is begging, "No, please, don't do it."

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    3. You've kept me on the edge of my seat a few times...talk about nervous to turn the page! (of course I did anyway, we just have to find out what happens!) What a relief to know that Molly, Georgie & others are safe :)

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  22. I'm still reading Elizabeth George, though I thought the one immediately after "the deed" was unreadable. I didn't finish it, but continued on.

    I confess I kind of like the books where a minor continuing character (someone who's been a part of the books' wallpaper) gets killed and we find out all about them.

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    1. Agreed, Barb. I also enjoy it when a minor character we've known for a while turns into a bad guy. Bwa ha ha.

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  23. I forgot also one of my best literary chases. In Ruth Rendell's Wexford series, the wife of one of her main characters dies offstage. He's happily married in one book and widowered(?) in the next. I was absolutely convinced she died in a short story and went on a quest. I never found the short story where she died. I'm pretty convinced there isn't one, but the quest rekindled my love of the crime short story, and eventually led to me becoming an editor for Level Best Books for a time. So, changed my life!

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    1. That's fabulous. It's all about the quest :)

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  24. I get through the scary parts of mystery novels (you know, those pages at 7/8ths into the story) because I know that the main character will survive. I KNOW!!

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  25. I haven't read the KS or EG series to comment on those deaths. But I am thinking of two TV series, Downton Abby and Nashville, in which major characters were killed because the actors were ready to move on. I think it weakened Downton, and I simply stopped watching Nashville when I heard what was going to happen. After all, one of the reasons I so enjoy reading (and some TV) is to get a break from the pain of real life.

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    1. The Nashville death really opened up the show for some serious looks at grief and regret (esp as it applied to long-standing relationships and parents). It was certainly painful - I'm glad I knew it was coming - but I can see where it would have been too real for some people. Escapist entertainment and all. But I rode the wave of emotion with them.

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    2. I stopped watching Nashville after that death, too. Just too sad for me.

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    3. Yep. I broke up with Downton for the same reason.

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    4. I'm still annoyed about Downton Abbey killing off Matthew. It was a soap opera, and soaps often replace an actor with another, so why couldn't they have done that? Gee... I stopped watching Downton at that point. I used to buy the DVDs, too, but stopped and have no desire to rewatch any of them. Maybe I'll donate them to the library.,,

      And there's a book series that I decided I'm done with. Too many "regulars" die off. I can understand elderly characters dying but not people who are supposedly in the prime of life! I can even understand if that happens to one character in the series but when one after another is killed off, reading that author's books no longer gives me pleasure.

      DebRo

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  26. I have pardoned Ann Cleeves, Elizabeth George (sorta), and Agatha Christie. In fact, I don't mind so much when a character gets killed off or, in the case of Poirot, dies of illness. What I cannot tolerate is killing the dog. Or the cat. Or even the pet mouse. A good idea might be to have a parrot or a tortoise for the pet character. Those things live forever, probably longer than the series anyway.

    And in Ann's defense, she killed off a love interest, in the first book, and I can't even remember the name or circumstances.

    A word to the wise: Marriage to Dave Robicheaux is invariably fatal. Come on JLB, why did you keep doing this?

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    1. Ann - Or a child. I can't do crimes with children just can't. LOL about Robicheaux!

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  27. Oh I remember when Karin killed off the main protagonist. I understood, but still. Happily the character that I really liked moved onto the next series and I'm waiting to see what happens next.

    I do recall another series where I invested in the couple and the author broke them up. Now, that one I was so upset and I stopped reading the series, until I heard that my couple was back as a couple, so I'm a happy camper.

    Dru

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    1. Dru- I love your investment in your fiction :) I feel the same way and sometimes as an author when I break couples up I feel bad, but...plot.

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    2. I put in a possible option love interest for Jane...and I still hear from readers who wonder: what happened to the fabulous Peter Hennessey? Hmmmm.

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  28. Oh, wow, I came close in one of my books, and even as I was writing it, I was not sure how I would have it come out. It was so sad, you know, it actually brought tears to my eyes when I was writing it. But I think it’s very… Natural, you know? People die, and sometimes those people are important in our lives. But it is fascinating to read all these comments… And see how risky it is!

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    1. It is risky but I think most people agree that it has be authentic - that seems to be the key.

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    2. Yes. I agree! And it makes it seem more real. In a very tender way. xoox

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  29. Amazing! The iPad has relented and is allowing me to comment. Although not to delete the “test” comment above. Although Louise Penny has not killed off a main character, she has had some important “supporters” disappear: Old’s wife and his son Charlie after Old was arrested for murdering his father and the wife of the former US soldier who was taken in by Ruth at the end of Nature of the Beast. But, I would not abandon Ms Penny or any other authors for killing a character.

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    1. I adore your loyalty, Elisabeth. I think you're a better reader than I!

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  30. I have several times killed off characters that I really, really liked. In all cases I cried and stewed and tried to figure out ways to write around it, but couldn't. (If I don't kill this character, I have no plot!!!) In one case, I had to go shut myself in a hotel room for a week to write through it. But although important, these have all been secondary characters.

    I would NOT kill any of my protagonists, no no no. Yes, I know people die in real life. But this is fiction, it's my world, and I'm the boss. And I think readers would feel terribly betrayed if I killed off any of the main characters.

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    1. Gemma and Duncan bring lots of joy to my life so I'm glad to know they're safe!!

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    2. Gemma and Duncan are untouchable - just sayin'.

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    3. Whew. I like Gemma and Duncan alive and well

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    4. Scanned the comments to see what you'd say :) Happy to hear they're safe! :)

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  31. Very intriguing topic, Jenn. Thanks for asking.

    Of course I hate to see a regular character killed off. It really throws you off. But I've realised that if a writer can kill off an important character, then no one is safe. It wipes out our compacency that "of course the protagonist will emerge alive" and really ups the ante. As I read the last Harry Potter book, I had no confidence in his surviving the final battle. Like others before him, he might be sacrificed. After all, we knew it was the last book.

    On the other hand, keep in mind what happened to the writer who killed off Misery Chastain. :^0

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    1. LOL, Susan, I live in fear of Misery, which i believe King wrote because of some rather rabid fans (Eek!).

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  32. Great discussion. Like Elizabeth George, Dana Stabenow killed off a main character (though not the protagonist). Iwaslisrening yo the book and just sat in my car crying after I got home. I TGOUGHT maybe she had killed off er protagonist later in the series, but ...

    I dint stop reading Elizabeth George, but I never read the book that came after (“Why ...”). Too mad.

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    1. Wow. I have to stop posting from iPad. Too many typos!

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    2. Ha! No worries. I understood comlpletely. And I’ve done the crying in the car thing, too.

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  33. I just published my first novel and friends tell me there should be a sequel--but it is a story about an American woman in aforeign war zone so characters die, so that's my excuse anf I'm sticking to it.

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  34. There's one instance that I can think of where not one of the main characters, but a character with so much potential and appeal, was killed off toward the end of the book. It just appeared to be an afterthought, done for shock value. It added nothing to the story, and, in fact, it ruined the story. That's the worst kind of betrayal and laziness from an author.

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    1. Shock value never works for me - there has to be a compelling reason otherwise I feel betrayed.

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  35. I couldn't think of any character whose killing-off upset me and then I remembered: yes. C.J. Box whose books I really like, killed off Cody Hoyt, a character in a couple of books. I think he did it so there was a reason that a female deputy or whatever she was could be the star of a new series. After that book I never read another in the female series.

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    1. Sometimes it’s just a deal breaker. I always hope I’ll forgive the author eventually.

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  36. well, I'm with many of the others regarding EG. Why can't her people Why keep piling on the grief for them? But Peter Lovesey got away with it and he will always be one of my favorites!

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    1. Funny how we can forgive some but not others.

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  37. I think I read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories before I was twelve. I don't remember mourning his death so I must have been warned of his death and his being raised to new life. When I was in the sixth grade in elementary school, the teacher asked the class "Has anyone ever cried after reading a book?" I had. And as I remembered it, I thought the title was taken from the Robert Frost poem and was called Miles to Go Before I Sleep. Well. Apparently there was a book called Before I Sleep by a James Monahan about the humanitarian doctor, Tom Dooley. And the teacher was pleased as punch that I was reading such high literature. She gushed over me and my choice of non-fiction and started to explain to the class who Dr. Tom Dooley. I had to stop her to explain that the book I was talking about was not about an American doctor in Africa, but rather about a pirate on the high seas who dies at the end of the book. The amount she had gushed was now the amount that she scorned my choice in literature. A few years back, I re-watched most of the episodes of Inspector Morse. When I learned that Jonathan Shaw had died in 2002 at 60 years of age, I was thoroughly chastened about my own mortality. (I am now in the words of the Beatles, 64.) My favorite death is not of a person. In the original Thomas Crown Affair, which ends in a cemetery, Faye Dunaway, can't forego winning and kills the relationship. The remake with Pierce Brosnan of course holds you on the edge of your seat with surprises and everyone lives happily ever after at the end.

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    1. David - that story is priceless! From gushing to scorn!

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