Is it ever okay to kill off a series character, or is that a career killer?
I’ve thought about this from time to time. JK Rowling managed to kill off beloved series characters in the books, and still sell millions upon millions.
Conversely, when Ian Rankin was in Canada a few years ago, I saw a televised special with him where a woman almost burst into tears as she declared that every book she feared it would be the one where he killed Rebus.
More recently, I’ve seen extreme reactions to books where a series character has been killed.
Now, personally, I can talk out of both sides of my mouth. I look at Rowling and think how brave she was to do what she felt needed to be done. I also think she was smart, in that she forewarned readers of the fact that a character would die before the book was released. I suppose it minimizes the shock.
But I look at some writers I don’t follow, and when I see readers venting rage at them I wonder about the decision. I’m not surprised people are upset…
On the other hand, I think a fitting ending to the Rebus series would be with his death. And Siobhan standing over his grave and then she feels the baby move. (Yes, I’m evil.)
I’m just beginning a series, so I can’t even imagine being in a position to consider voluntarily ending one after ten, twelve, fifteen books, or twenty years writing those characters.
Would you consider killing off a series character? Would the death of a character you love turn you off an author… or would it depend on how they handled it? How much should writers consider the feelings of fans when it comes to making life and death decisions in the stories?
I’ll admit it – I was partially inspired by the recent announcement that Jorja Fox
is leaving CSI. Now, I’m not a CSI junkie the way some people are, but I have already found myself debating how they’ll write her out… seems to me death is the probable option.
And if any of you have killed off a series character, was it a hard choice, and how did readers take it?