Killing Off My Main Character…..

I guess this is a spoiler alert.  However, by the time I edit this crazy draft, find & get an agent, then  with some luck have it published you would have forgotten any of this. Why? Because I’m very sure it will be many years from now that any of this will happen  LOL!!!

During a recent NaNoWriMo write-in I met a fellow writer who asked me why was I going to kill my main character. In so many words she asked  if I was killing him because he was a ‘bad’ person.

I smiled inside because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  He is a ‘good’ person, a man deserving love and a happy life, but in this case not an ending one would expect or want in a story for their main character.  Sometimes things are too broken to be fixed.

Life and the choices we make as individuals often leads us down a path to the inevitable, in this case death.  My character’s hurt has corrupted their ability make the change needed to do more than survive—to truly live. Allowing the pain to be the only thing that defines them. It may sound harsh, perhaps it is, but it is the one truth I know in the story’s outcome I created.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life meeting all types of people from all walks- off the beaten path so to say.  As a psych major, I choose a field of study that would help give me the tools needed to empower individuals enough to help them make the choices that would improve their own lives. This lead to a 12 year chosen career path as a counselor to teens, parents, alcoholics, heroin addicts, and HIV/AIDS patients. In that time, even as I looked at my own life, I began to understand there comes a point in a person’s life where the window for change becomes narrower and narrower.

Once a person passes that “Fork in the Road” and neglected to make the proverbial correct turn,

  • not taking that Leap of Faith and trusting even when others had shown them otherwise,
  • not embracing the love they found in a place they weren’t expecting,
  • not leaving the job that has caused them more misery than the security it provided,
  • not leaving that relationship,
  • saying No instead of Yes,
  • saying Yes instead of always No.

If we didn’t step into the unknown rather than settle for the familiar, it can become too late, as in the instance of my character’s story arc.

We are creatures of habit and within that there is a layer of fear of the unfamiliar and unknown.  I believe this fear leaves us in the soppy mess that we often find ourselves in. A dirty, unhappy but very comfortable place. Why?  Because this is what we know, what we are familiar with—it therefore becomes the only truth we believe in, because anything else, anything better, is not possible or to be lived by others.

By no means am I trying to simplify our lives and say that we are filled with a multitude of  choices by which we always turn a blind eye to.  What I do believe is that there is always a moment in our lives, however small or large that we do have an opportunity to choose; a decision that can either let the door crack open just enough to let the breeze in or simply see and experience something different.

I am not an blind optimist but I am always hopeful. Innately, I have always been a person that listened and cared when others don’t. I’ve often been let down or consumed with the pain of others—of individuals when they themselves don’t seem to be aware of or want to think about what they actually might be facing. Even with this, I remain ever hopeful.

Within the story I’ve created, it is my hope through witnessing my protagonist’s death the ones closest to him will value life and learn the lessons that needed to be learned. I see the main character of my story as the visionary—the poet and the one that needs to die.

I think it was said best by Michael Cunningham in his book The Hours

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast”  – Virgina Wolf

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7 comments on “Killing Off My Main Character…..

  1. Megan says:

    I think you’ve given valid reasons to kill off your character. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m sure it can be difficult, especially if you like that person. Good luck with it!

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Megan,

      Thanks…it has been hard to make that decision but I know it is the right one. Thank you for even visiting my site and giving feedback.. I can use it 🙂

  2. […] post by Natasha This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← LLXIII. […]

  3. Paul McLaughlan says:

    Thank you, you’ve said it so well, I too have a wonderful character who just must die by the end of the book. For mine, ultimately it’s that for the character to be complete–thus resonant–that’s the only end for him.

    • Natasha says:

      Wow thanks!! Its good not to feel alone in knowing that you have to do something that maybe difficult for a character you created but know it must be done. Thanks Paul for visiting my site!!
      You guys have a great site. I visited early this morning (my NYC Eastern standard time) and its awesome!!

  4. I’ve wanted to be able to do this for several characters of mine, but mainly in cooperative roleplay games. The stories there reach a point where characters of mine either 1) have nowhere else to go or 2) simply cannot keep going and be real, believeable people any more. Unfortunately, when it came down to it, I always chickened out because I loved the characters so much or I felt that I could shoe-horn them into another tale.
    Reading this helps me realise that, actually, it may, in some cases, be the best and most natural, next step. 🙂

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Lleandra Trust me I know how you feel. I adore all my characters. But like a close friend told me.. once you create the character and develop the type of person they are, the infinite choices in life they once had now can becomes narrower… leaving you with no real options but to let them end up as they should.. my case dead LOL!
      Thank you for reading my post!!

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