Killing Your Babies

Sounds unsettling, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is.  A few years ago, when I first started working in earnest on Crown, this is how a good writer-friend of mine described the phenomena of killing off main characters.  Since then, I’ve found it to be a painfully accurate description.

I’m not sure about other fiction writers, butI become very attached to my main characters, be they protagonist or antagonist.  I’m sure it’s because I spend so much time with them, getting to know them, and ultimately playing out the story with them.  It doesn’t help that, in almost every case, each one possesses some characteristic with which I either empathize or possess myself.  When the time finally comes to put one of them down, it hurts.

For the most part, I don’t walk into a story planning to kill of one of my leads.  The storyline just evolves that way.  However, I’ve found that it’s occasionally a surprise, as well. On one occasion, I didn’t realize one of my own characters was going to die until the moment just before I typed the words.  I couldn’t even write my way out of it either.  Whether I liked it or not, at that very moment, the character was dead; there was no escaping it.  Of course, this forced me to go back and make some plot adjustments, which also included describing the other characters’ reactions.  It would seem that, like real life, sudden death is a jarring and messy business.

Is there a pattern to the deaths of my babies?  There’s one so far that I’ve noticed.  Characters that don’t grow or evolve do so at their own peril.  I’m not sure if it’s a subconcious issue, or if I secretly get bored with them, but a character that isn’t dynamic likely has a short life-expectancy.  This does not mean that dynamic characters get a pass.  It just means their odds of surviving are much better.

Do I have any teasers for you on this topic as it pertains to the next installment of Kings?  Well, sure.  We lose one (perhaps two) of my favorites from Crown, and a second who will be introduced in the next book, but will have a large part of the spotlight.  In that particular instance, I do admit to knowing they were going to buy it all along, but I’m still not happy about it.  That’s all I’m giving up for now.


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  1. tgolic
    Posted June 5, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I personally appreciate the need for main characters to “buy it”. Not only does that help paint a more dire picture when the character is confronted with the prospect of death but it also forces (for lack of a better word) other characters to mature.

    If nothing else, it’s a great way to move the story along a new path.

    All that said, keep in mind that Klam and Log are both invincible. Not like Superman invincible (especially since he died), more like “a Bon Jovi song stuck in your head” invincible. Somethings are forever…

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  • About the Author

    T.M. Lennon currently lives in North Carolina. His passion for science-fiction and fantasy was influenced by Star Wars in 1977 and The Lord of the Rings novels, which he read at an early age. He created the world of Eörlond in his teens for a fantasy role-playing game, and it has grown ever since.

    The one-time a soldier, systems engineer, and software developer, now adds author to his list of credentials. He continues to work during the day as an information technology consultant, but spends his precious little free time evolving the land of Eörlond and its inhabitants in front of his trusty laptop.