Ladies and gents, i have a couple of questions for you.
I'm flirting with the idea of having one of my main characters die two thirds of the novel. The problem here is that the story will be written from his perspective right up to the point that he is killed off. The story is then picked up by one of the secondary characters.
So now, my questions are: would this make you just stop reading? Is it even possible to pull this off without any repercussions?
I can't think of any books that have done this, but I think there is a valid example of a movie that has pulled it off. "Psycho" did exactly that, and it worked out pretty well for Hitchcock. It started out as the girl's story (was her name Marianne? Something like that), from her perspective, but she gets killed about 1/3 of the way into the movie, and it suddenly becomes a story about Norman Bates.
Posts: 1528 | Registered: Dec 2003
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Hmmm... one of my books was like this. I ended up changing it for brevity issues. I think it could work if your secondary characters are strong enough (i.e. they can carry the story on their own.)
GRR Martin kind of does this. I mean, he kills off POV characters and then picks up the stories with the rest.
Are you by any chance acquainted with A Game of Thrones?
I was a bit taken aback when (takes out spoiler) a certain main character was killed--but it sure didn't make me stop reading.
I would suggest against having the book ONLY from that PoV. It is better to establish switches in PoV fairly early in a novel, I think, if you're going to do it. But having a main character die is hardly uncommon in fantasies. It's to the point of being almost expected.
Edit: Seriously, any fantasy writer who hasn't read Martin, if only to find out what is being done in fantasy these days is doing themselves a disservice in my opinon.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 04, 2008).]
I'm going to try to explain my motive without giving away my whole premise, so, here it goes. The POV character of the earlier parts of the book is a father who, along with his little girl get caught up in an attack by by fantastic creatures. The father perishes saving the girl and handing it to another character, who is going to try to get her and himself out of this mess.
So you see, you can even go as far as saying that the little girl is the MC.
I second JeanneT's idea of establishing the POV of the other character early on, this would be the least jarring way of doing things and also gives the impression that anyone is fair game which is one of the wonderful things about Martin. I think with all my George R.R. Martin worshipping I really should have a shrine...
It takes a lot to kill of your first person POV and the only time I can remember it happening they were resurrected without the audience ever expecting otherwise (a bit like watching the episode of Buffy after she died, well they are not really going to start a whole new series if she is going to stay dead).
If you don't want to have more than one POV prior to death, then the only other thing I can think about is if the book has two sections, POV of father up til section break, then new POV after section break. That I would accept because of the strong break. Section breaks are fabulous things if used well. Like the correct use of commas, full stops and paragraphs; it creates the flow.
Thank you, i will be sure to read that book.
Yes, the child will be young, like 5 years old so it might be just a tad difficult having the story on her POV. As far as having the other character's POV introduced early in the story might actually do the trick, i didn't even think of that one.
lol JeanneT, I'm glad you took out the spoiler. I happen to have just started Game of Thrones yesterday, and I'm only about 50 pages in. I literally can't put it down. And, I'm reading it because of a recommendation you made in another thread, by the way. Posts: 346 | Registered: Feb 2006
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I'm glad it's living up to my recommendation. It's hard to remember with a book like that that not everyone has read it so it's not fair to give away the plot--although that can make it hard to discuss issues like this.
Edit: LOL And I'm as bad about Martin, Grant John. I expect people to start moaning and saying--there she is, going on about HIM again. *grins*
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 05, 2008).]
Dane, I agree with establishing POV shifts ahead of the father's death. Since the child's age makes their POV impractical, how about the POV of the character the father eventually hands her off to?
Posts: 406 | Registered: Mar 2007
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Yea, thats exactly what i was thinking to do. The daughter is going to be real young to be POV, so maybe i will use both the father's POV and the other person's POV and then just stick to the other person's once we hit that critical point in the story.
Now here is the other problem; the other POV might also be on the young side. So, what age would be considered good enough for being POV? I was thinking 9-10 years old.
I believe in A Game of Thrones Bran is eight years old at the start and the first chapter as well as a number of subsequent chapters are in his PoV. Of course, Martin's children are not in the least child-like (imo). I don't think there is any arbitrary minimum.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 06, 2008).]
I'd just like to voice my opinion that I think your original idea, if done well, would work fine.
There's always that little clause "if done well" isn't there. You can do ANYTHING if it's done well haha. Seriously though, if I were reading a book from a single POV and 2/3 of the way through that character actually dies, and the next chapter is another POV, I could see two reactions. Either I would hate it or I would love it.
I think, if you don't really want to add extra chapters/scenes from other POV characters, if you at least throw in some foreshadowing, have the father talk about how he would willingly die to save his daughter, about how some goals/values/etc are worth dying for, etc, then I think the effect might work really well. After all, in a single POV novel, most people assume the POV character is not allowed to die. And yet he does, and the story continues on.
Even without other POV characters, I think it could work. I would agree with a previous suggestion to make a strong break though. Maybe have like a full blank page, or divide the novel into "section 1" and "section 2" so there is an obvious dividing line. That will help make the transition seem more natural.
Let me mention that I disagree with the "give hints" opinion. Of course, it's a matter of opinion, but when I thought it was effectively done (see the afore mentioned novels by GRR Martin) was when it came as a huge shock.
The character is in danger, and you're thinking "of course theyll get out of this" -- and then they don't.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 07, 2008).]
I have to agre, George R. R. Martin knows how to kill characters, outrage the audience, and keep them reading. If you want to kill a character, follow his example: make it quick and unexpected. A big lead-up will leave the reader skipping ahead pages until the guy actually dies.
However, conversely, make sure you're clear enough that he's dead. I've seen a lot of online writers kill a character quickly but, by trying to be "artistic" and making it very difficult to read, it ruined the effect.
Wow, what would that even read like? I'm just trying to figure out what a long-winded artistic kill would be, when written. Can you throw me an example, for all I know I employ this "technique" by accident.
Posts: 187 | Registered: Jan 2008
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Oh someone buying Game of Thrones, my heart feels so warm.
I'll be quick because this is a long thread: if I keep reading it is because there is something other than the father (dead) I like. Person: girl or new caregiver. Place: the world they're in. Or quest: I need to know if the sacrifice was worth it i.e. the girl doesn't get killed three pages later. Do any of this and I think your reader will keep going.
quote:I agree with establishing POV shifts ahead of the father's death.
I disagree. If you want to pull off the "Holy crap, he just killed the main character!" effect, it would work a lot better if every indication in the novel up to the point, both in plot and structure, indicated that he was not going to die. Putting it entirely in his POV up to the point of his death would certainly do that.
Switching PoV gives no indication that a PoV character is going to die, and for readers to accept that you are going to do PoV switches for any reason, you should establish doing them early in the novel. The two issues are unrelated.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 10, 2008).]
Yea, i think that the no hints thing is a good idea. I have decided to start with the multiple POVs early in the story. One question though, if i establish the multiple POVs early in the story do i need to do the section break after the critical moment?
I'll feild the question as one of those who suggested section breaks. I love section breaks, often for section breaks sake, but I think that if you have more than one POV you have solved the problem you first possed us. Therefore it is entirely up to you.