Why *not* to “kill your babies”… Yet!

Many books (and stories) end with characters that the reader has grown attached to biting the dust, be it for dramatic purposes or otherwise. In some cases, that’s fine! However, keep in mind that some of the best revenue that you, as an author, can get from book sales is if you create a series. Not every book is material to write a series with, and not every author really wants to write one. But a lot of the time, authors don’t even consider it so I’m just going to suggest to you that killing off your main character for a poignant ending might not be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Now, can you create a series after killing off a main character? Absolutely! There are places and points in time where killing off a main to be replaced later or to have another character hunt down and avenge the killed character is just fine! But I will say that killing off someone that we’ve grown attached to and to even love is always a rough thing for a reader. We get all emotional and sniffly. Okay, well at least I do, but that’s beside the point. Some readers might even be angered by it, so just be careful about how you go about that. There does come a time in a character’s life when it’s good to let them go (Sherlock Holmes, for example, died in the end of his series – spoiler alert) but generally speaking, try and hold onto them to create some sort of door for a series.

Does a series require a singular character to be the main focus? No. Not at all. Look at the world created by Raymond E. Feist as a great example. While there are trilogies set within that world that do include all the same characters (and many of the other books have brushes with them as well), the whole series has many, many different viewpoint characters and overall is an extremely dense and rich world. He also does kill off main characters in some of his books and the reader is usually sniffing about it (I’m a girl, I’ll take that hit). But in the cases where he did, it wasn’t in such a manner that either angered the reader or crippled his ability to continue the series.

These comments aren’t mandatory, of course, if there’s a book that you just want as a singular story, then by all means, kill your babies. But before you do, just consider the marketability and usefulness of having a main character (or a group of main characters) that create a series because that’s really where your income and readership will come from (at least in Fiction, that is).

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