Killing Main Characters

I don’t know about any of you, but I used to despise authors who killed off main characters. How could they, right? Especially if those characters are part of a series and the readers get so emotionally attached to them. It seems despicable!

I remember when a friend of mine went BERZERK after reading a certain modern series where the main character dies at the end. She was so utterly disgusted with the author, I thought to myself, “I’ll never kill off one of my main characters.”

But now, as a writer, I see the benefit and difficulties of a potential main character’s death. And, as a medical professional, I also realize how ridiculous it is for an author to work so hard to keep a MC alive. I can’t help but roll my eyes in disgust when I read about horrendous wounds and injuries and atrocities that happen to a MC and, miraculously!, they survive! I mean, how do authors get crap like that past an editor and publisher?

Coming from working in a hospital in downtown Detroit, let me tell you, that is not what happens. When people are wounded or blown up by a bomb, they either don’t make it, or they’re scarred or disabled for the rest of their lives. Unless you write fantasy or magical realism where there literally is a magical cure for an injury… THERE IS NO MAGICAL CURE!

So, yeah, now I’m plotting and planning the deaths of a MC or two in a few of my books, and it is not easy. It requires so much work to justify their deaths to the readers. I believe some authors are afraid to cause an uproar in their fan base and lose money, but if it fits the story, then kill them off!

Let’s be real, if J.K. Rowling had killed off Harry, there certainly would have been riots in the streets. But she still had the authorial right to kill him if she wanted. Life happens. And in books, life should still happen.

Am I right? What do you think? Keep or kill MCs? Why?

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What’s the Craziest Thing You’ve had a Character do?

I’m sure some of y’all are going to give me that crap about only doing things that move the story forward blah blah blah. I don’t care. This is a very simple question. If you haven’t had your character do anything crazy, then it is very easy to not comment.

With that being said, I really don’t think I’ve ever had any of my characters do anything too out of the ordinary. There was a pretty crazy shootout at his house during the middle of the night and another main character killed a couple guys who likely would have done the same to her if she hadn’t killed them first. But that stuff happens in crime novels all the time. Which is why I don’t really think either of those is particularly crazy.

And I don’t think I’d make Andrew or Sydney do anything crazy just for the sake of doing so. Who knows. I don’t.

So what’s the craziest thing you’ve had a character do?

PS: I decided to write about this topic not because of something I’m writing, but because of some personal experience. I was watching my skydiving videos when I thought of it. And decided I’d share those videos with y’all just in case you’ve never been fortunate enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. The first video is from July 15, 2011.

The second is from August 15, 2011.

And oh by the way, I don’t actually think skydiving is crazy. Only people who’ve never done it think that.

Are you Writing Real People Into Your Stories?

I’ve been really open about the fact that I love using real people as characters. At least I think I have been. Or perhaps I’ve only said  that I like using their names? I don’t remember. Anyway, I think doing so makes for solid characters. Cause at the end of the day you want people to relate to your characters, right? Right.  And I’m not saying that my characters are 100 percent biographical when I base a character on a person, but they are a little bit. Maybe I’m just cheating.

For me, we all know that every individual person has their own personality and belief system, so why not transfer that from real life onto the pages of a book? Assuming the person grants you permission, of course. Tell me what could be more fascinating than to have a writer you know ask you if they can base a character on you. It would depend a little bit on the story and a lot on the quality of the writing, but I would be ecstatic. Seeing parts of your odd personality on the pages of a book, how cool would that be? Maybe you have a very distinct laugh. Or maybe you do this thing with your hair in certain situations. Or perhaps you have a shoe obsession. Just small things that anyone can recognize.

The people I’ve chosen to use as characters are all completely different from one another. Gender. Race. Education. Personality. I believe they make for great characters to write, but also to read.

So tell me. have you ever based a character on someone you know?

First Person or Third Person?

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Photo Credit: CheatCC

This is one of those questions that I see bouncing around WordPress just about everyday. Deciding whether to write in first person or third person.

I’m not going to write this post giving the benefits of either, because I think that’s up to you. But I can tell you what I prefer to read and write. First, reading. I would say that I prefer reading first person, but I think I have more books written in third person. So that preference is irrelevant.

Second, the writing. This is an easy one. Definitely prefer writing in first person. Why? Because I feel as though I’m able to step inside the shoes of my MC and tell the story more accurately. Does that even make sense? I don’t know. When I think of reading or writing in third person I think of a little ghost flying alongside the MC throughout the book (assuming that POV is constant) and that just makes me laugh. I think this paragraph just makes me sound like a crazy person.

But who cares about me? What about you? Do you have a preference for first person or third person when it comes to your reading and writing?

Characters and Their Sports

I’m not talking about characters and their favorite sports to watch, I’m talking about characters and the sports they’ve played at some point in the past. I know not every genre does this, but it seems just about every detective novel I read the MC has played a particular sport at a younger age. I don’t see anything wrong with this, but I’m wondering if it’s just what I read or if it’s a bigger thing.

The two sports I know some of my favorite characters have played/participated in are baseball and boxing. I can think of one character who was a minor league baseball player until injury ended his career. And another character who was the top amateur boxer in his state. Maybe you’ve even read or written a character who still plays a particular sport? I haven’t seen that because after all, how many people are still playing a sport after being done with school.

Have you read or written characters who have played sports?

Ending Your Story

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

We’re all writers here, right? I know most of you have several manuscripts complete at the moment. Some of you probably have dozens. Well then that means you have some experience bringing your stories to a close.

Before I begin, I first want to say that I have no issue with happy endings. Fiction is not supposed to be 100% believable, otherwise how could you have all the crime series that never seem to end? Now let’s talk about ending your story. Personally, I’m a big fan of the ending that fits. So if the main character must lose someone close to him/her, then I’m okay with that. If the main character gets seriously injured in heroic fashion, then I’m okay with that. Or even if the story leaves you with a cliffhanger. I have no issue with any of these as long as it fits.

I think writers can be guilty of writing a happy ending just for the sake of doing so, at times. I’d say that’s the only issue I’ve had with story endings. The ones that leave you scratching your head like “whaa?”and thinking how in the heck did the author come up with that. I’ve never once had an issue with a story ending in a manner that forces you to read the next book in the series. Or ending badly for a main character in the book. I honestly think it’s more difficult to write these kinds of endings. Because readers have almost come to expect a positive resolution to the events throughout the book.

When it comes to my own writing, well I have just the one story that certainly had a happy ending. But I have every intention of continuing the series and absolutely throwing in some curve balls when it comes to the endings. Am I going to have Andrew killed in a shootout with a bad guy during his last case? Eh, probably not because I don’t want him to go out like that. But you never know, right?

What about you? In your writing do you have any preference when it comes to endings? Or perhaps in your reading.

PS: I apologize for not replying to comments at all recently. I have a giant orange number staring me in the face right now of pending comments. I’m going to do something about this. Finally. But I always read what you guys say. Always.

Characters in Their Free Time

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Photo Credit: The Best News

I don’t know about you, but my characters tend to have a little bit of free time during the course of their stories. In my experience reading PI novels sometimes all one can do is wait and see what happens. And I’d have to say that that’s also the case in most stories. I mean, Harry Potter has plenty of free time in his stories, right? And if a boy wizard who has Voldemort after him can have free time, then so can your characters.

Now let’s see. In my first book I had my characters go for a run, watch sports on TV, watch the news on TV, lay out by the pool, read, and probably a bunch of other things I can’t remember off the top of my head at two in the morning as I write this. To me, that sounds pretty normal. For them to be doing things that you’d expect any typical person to be doing at a given time. But your character probably also has hobbies. See, that’s the thing. I’m NOT only talking hobbies here, I’m talking what is actually described in the text. Sure it’s nice that your character likes long walks on the beach at sunset, but that’s not the discussion we’re having. I’m talking about actions.

So tell me, what do you have your characters do during their free time during their stories?

Oh, Andrew also enjoyed a nap and had a quick gym session in my book.