First things first, credit where credit is due. This post was inspired by a post by Faye over at The Social Potato. You can check her post out here and here is her twitter for good measure.
When I first started reading YA way back in 2008, the concept of a major character death horrified me. I hated them and I found them pointless. It used to annoy me so much that I put a lot of time and effort in to character and they basically died on me.
Fast-forward six years, I have come to be at peace with the death of a main character. Sometimes I even welcome the idea.
Every now and again, I think death is necessary. Especially when there is a huge conflict such as a war or a revolution happening in the book. I think if everyone comes out from these situations unscathed, the conflict in question was pointless to present itself in the first place. Also, if a character is taking numerous risks and death happens as a result of said risks, I am fine with that also. Risks don’t always pay off and I want that reflected in the realist way possible in my reads.
However, I am not okay with some character deaths and do be aware of some subjectivity about to come into play on my part. I think a character death needs to be justified. It is very rare that they are not but it is truly annoying when this does happens. Another pet peeve of mine is when a “catalyst character” dies. A character who is the whole reason for the books plot. I am not going to spoil anything, but you can probably guess which books I am referring to.
The most infuriating thing of all about character’s deaths regardless of my thoughts are the bi-products of them: the fans reaction. I think fans who attack authors over the deaths of their characters are too much. I think it is unfair on an author who can’t please everyone.
2 thoughts on “Death of The Majors: Why I’m At Peace With Character Deaths.”
I love this post! I’m usually okay with character deaths. Maybe because most of what I read is Fantasy and Science Fiction where there are wars and end of the world kind of drama where it fits in with the story.
But I totally agree that the death has to be justified. I’m not against the “kill your darlings” concept but it has to fit with the story and it has to fit with the character. The tricky ground is when a character sacrifices themselves for the greater good or for the MC. I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen it not work. It worked for me when the series has shown the character as being selfless and it didn’t work when it seemed like their sacrifice came out of nowhere.
In general I just don’t support character deaths for shock value and that is usually the case when it comes to killing “catalyst characters.” I think there are better ways to reach the climactic conclusion to a series without killing your MC.
And to stop myself from rambling further, one last point. You are absolutely right about fan reactions. Even if you disagree and are traumatized it’s not really fair to harass the author. And it’s especially not fair to go on a tirade and spoil the ending for other readers! That has happened to me in the past and it’s the worst!
You already know my thoughts about this but I am super psyched that both of us feel the same way. And I agree with you that the fan reaction can be a little… overwhelming. I remember the reaction to Allegiant and man, that was harsh. I mean I understood why they were pissed, but it’s idiotic to take it out on the author. It’s her story, and for her this is her interpretation and way of telling it
Faye at The Social Potato