I just realized I have a massive tendency to kill off main characters for a finale. I did it in my novelette, Jeopardy, and subsequent comic adaptation (still forthcoming). I’ve planned it out for another incarnation of a western comic, plus at least three of my current book ideas end with the tragic death of its primary character.
I’m going to have to revise that.
The joy is in the journey and if I become predictable at murdering my protagonists in the climax, then why would anyone invest in them? It might work for a first time reader, but why would any regular readers give a shit?
Killing a main character early can raise the stakes and show real consequences in one’s books, but consequences can be done in a million different ways.
Plus now, because of series like The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones, it’s often done now as a stunt. “Don’t get attached” was GoT’s catchphrase, which to me, lessened the impact of some later deaths. Daenerys’ death, while necessary and I understood what they were trying to do, could have been handled much better. Personally, I think the whole thing would have been better done if they’ve cut the last half and just left it.
Or had a proper Jon/Grey Worm showdown with Arya helping Jon escape, huge battle between the North and Daenerys’ remaining forces, fighting through, getting back, and finally, sitting on the throne and getting fried by Drogon.
Uncertainty is the key to keeping a reader off-balance. In their attempts to have a “clean” ending, the showrunners forgot that, apparently deciding an 80s style, everybody’s fine wrap-up segment was more appropriate to what was an otherwise landmark series where unpredictability was king.
I have to rethink the whole killing the protagonist thing. I can’t do it over and over or it will be a thing I will become known for and it will be expected.
And expected is predictable.
Then again, there’s a huge market for formulaic detective and spy novels to buck right against that notion, so who knows?
Maybe when I’m done with my passion projects, I’ll go the J.K. Rowling/Rick Riordan route and cash in with generic whodunits, but for now, I think I’ll try to keep readers (and myself) off-balance.