As a writer, ever have an internal debate about when or if you should kill your characters? When you've contemplated this, are they usually secondary or tertiary ones? What about a main character? Or have you done this already? I ask because recently, I was sucked into Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampire series. No, I haven't reviewed any of her books here, because I haven't had a chance. I enjoy the series, but what I'm most perplexed about after reading Hard Bitten, book 4 in the series is why the author killed off the main character, Ethan Sullivan? I understand when you're towards the end of a series that some times main characters are sacrificed, but usually there is a story/reasoning behind doing so. Like most fans of the Chicagoland series, I was a bit taken back. Was I pissed off like several were? No and I'm still a fan. But...I was disappointed and that got me thinking.
As a writer, when is it okay to kill a main character off? And as a reader, when is it acceptable for a beloved character to die?
Before you respond, consider this:
JK Rowling killed off many beloved characters including main ones. Remember how much flack she got for it too? I think Time magazine did a spread of it. Additionally, Joss Whedon does it...a lot. In fact, he talked about it last month on Reddit. Here's an interesting fan question on the topic:
Fan Q: "I'm sure that killing off a character you've invested a lot of time in can be tough. Have you ever found that doing this to a particular character has had a profound emotional affect on you? Who was the toughest kill?"
Whedon reply: "I actually find it refreshing... delightful.... vaguely arousing.... Actually, I'm, no offense, very tired of being labelled as "the guy who kills people". Shakespeare (he's this hot new writer) does it way more than me, and everyone's all excited about how he, as it were, holds a mirror up to nature, while I'm like the Jason Voorhees of the writing community. Unfair."
And as far as who was the toughest to kill, Whedon's answer was Buffy's mom. I agree. In fact it was the toughest to watch. What about you? Thoughts?