when everyone’s favorite fictional author, richard castle, killed off his hero derek storm in the novel in a hail of bullets, his fans were shocked. shocked, i tell you! or…well, maybe that’s stretching it a bit much. after all, rick castle doesn’t actually exist, and the writers that made him up made up his fan base as well. but you get the idea. and did i mention i love nathan fillion? seriously. love that man.
killing off major characters isn’t anything new. authors do it, time and again, sometimes purely for shock value. when the writers of the british TV series MI:5 killed of a character within the first couple of episodes of the first season, a person they’d been building up to be a major character, it told fans that no one was safe. they’ve stayed true to that for the show’s entire run, now filming its 11th season, by killing or otherwise getting rid of fan favorites. and its ratings have remained strong.
but at the same time, it could alienate people. i almost didn’t pick up the last harry potter novel because i was so pissed at what jk rowling did in the 6th book. and then i got pissed all over again at what she did in the 7th book. while i’m certain that most people have read these books by now, out of respect for the two people in the world who haven’t, i’ll not mention who she kills. but she did kill off some people i was rather fond of, and i’ve yet to forgive her for it.
i was conversating with the BF not too long ago (literally. it was less than a hour ago) about dying characters. namely, what purpose would it serve to kill off my main characters in some manner? i’d toyed with the idea of killing audrey at the end of shadowfighter, but i’ve gotten far too attached to her, and i’d rather not. also, now that i’ve mentioned it here, i can’t kill her, not on the off chance the masses will eventually get to read the shadowdemon trilogy. with a lesson in vanishing, killing frankie would actually make things much harder. i can’t kill her without having to re-write the last third of the story, and that’s a rather unpleasant task, and since i can avoid it, i will.
i’m not above creating a new project, though, where my goal will be to eventually have the main character die. but there in lies the problem. i don’t like the idea of creating characters simple to have them be killed off (although i’ve actually already done that). i like the idea that i could just drop that bomb on people. it’s a powerful feeling, and i love instigating heated discussions…which is what my eventual hope would be. to create a character, or a series, that people will love enough to want to discuss. and then get angry at the decisions i make regarding that character. oh wait, that’s another delusion. really must stop having those.
i can see how it would be gratifying, though, in an odd, semi-twisted sort of way. taking a much loved character and doing something that would be rather unpleasant and unpopular to that character, which then leads to the general outcry and despair of those that choose to read those particular books…i can see how it would give the author a feeling of vindication, that “i’ve made it so there neener neener” feeling. i’m petty and shallow enough to want to be able to lord that over certain people from the past, even though i know they’d be making fun of me for choosing to write paranormal romance novels. to which i’d say, “and have you written anything that’s ended up on the new york times best seller list? no? i didn’t think so.”
and there go the delusions again.
*image via evilpenguins.tribe.net