Why I Killed My Main Character
1:00. I pulled out my laptop and settled down on the sofa to write.
1:40. Tensions were growing higher; the end of the book was getting closer and closer.
2:15. I dug up the scene I was using for inspiration for the epilogue.
2:40. The deed was done.
My main character, the one who narrated the entire book, wad dead.
And though I was sad (and still am), I didn't regret it, nor am I planning to change it.
No Plot Armor Here!
We've all been there - casually watching a movie or reading a book in a group of friends. The hero is in mortal peril; the villains are getting closer-
And then, miraculously, they and their team make it out alive. Farewell, random side character who popped in five minutes before. Hello, everyone with any character development.
At this point, someone's always bound to give a chuckle and murmur, "Plot armor." Agreement will sweep through the room.
Some authors always tend to protect their main characters, no matter how logical that is in the moment.
The result is forced, unrealistic action and plot that, at best, leaves readers frustrated, and, at worst, leaves them feeling cheated and likely to walk away from the story.
That's one of my decisions as a writer - plot armor will never be an explanation in my books.
To sum the premise of this project up, it's about two characters who have to choose between murder and death. One chooses the first; the main character chooses the latter.
The theme that keeps popping up in the last few chapters is best illustrated in this snippet:
We fill the bare room as so many times before—all eighteen of us, trained to be the very worst of the worst for a king with a crown forged from the blood of his people. So many times we’ve trained, talked, challenged each other. All of us are here. It is the same.
And yet so, so different.
Because here we are. The moment the last three years have been leading up to—the final decision. The decision that has been hovering in the back of everyone’s mind ever since we first stepped into this underground fortress where the Ten hold council—
Will I ever make it out alive?
And the answer is no. For all of us. Because some will die and some will not. Yet no one will live, not truly.
Because children should never be murderers. Children should never have that look of pure terror that I saw in Martin’s face. Children should never try to convince someone to leave their injured friend behind as Harmonia tried to do. Children should never be relieved that their friend killed someone as Cole was.
One way or another, the children that entered this fortress will never come out alive. Those who do come out will be weapons. Assassins. Slaves.
Right is right, no matter what it costs. The phrase is echoing through my mind as a constant reminder of why I chose to forfeit this training.
Because right is right, no matter what.
There is always a choice in life. Sometimes the choice is between the bad and worse, yes. Sometimes the cost of that choice is drastic.
And yet there is a choice. And we have been called to choose what is right, even unto death.
The epilogue I mentioned above actually happens after the main character's death. How's that?
Well, without getting into a long and complicated explanation, I'll say that, as in our world, death is not the final ending.
And that sometimes what comes after death is so much more beautiful than what comes before.
I am a follower of a Prince who conquered Death itself. I do not like the idea of death, no. Death hurts. Yet I am not afraid of Death.
And I wanted my book to be a reminder of that.
With that in mind, the epilogue finishes with this:
We whisper our names to each other and dissolve into tears and laughter and memories as the others smile at us, as our ship sails forward, onto a land we’ve placed all of our hope in—
A land where we can smile. A land where we can be free. And, above all else, a promise-forged land where even children trained to be traitors can trust.
What do you think of killing characters? Drop your thoughts below!