Can “I” Die?

Sounds rather tragic, if not dark, doesn’t it?  Not to worry.  I’m not thinking of leaving this mortal coil.  😊  Another way to pose the title question: when you’re writing your book in first-person, can your protagonist die?  Not quite as “grabbing”, though, is it?  😉

The question was posed on a writer’s site recently, and it caught my attention.  Quite honestly, it’s something I’ve never considered.  Kill a secondary/crucial character, yes, maybe, but the central character, the protagonist, the narrator?  Never!

But then, I’m a want/need-a-happy-ending gal.  Central characters shouldn’t die; that’s just wrong.  If I enjoyed the read and the hero/heroine bites the bullet after I’ve traveled through thick and thin with them, I’m in a [major] funk for days!  I feel deprived . . . deceived . . . and downright p’o’d.

If it’s really in your heart to do so, though, to accomplish the fatal grand finale, you could switch between POVs—something that drives me absolutely crazy (and will usually have me tossing the book into the recycling bin)—and have another character, or you, detail what’s so tragically transpired.

And, just to ensure we’re on the same page, let’s quickly summarize the three POVs.

♠   1st person: the storyteller is part of the story or is involved in it and relates the action from his or her own point-of-view.  ♠  2nd person:  the storyteller talks directly to you and pulls you into the narrative (not my cup of tea, but to each his or her own).  ♠  3rd person: the storyteller is an indirect onlooker and provides particulars, rather like a journalist/reporter might.

Alternatively, you could end with, well, your protagonist’s end-ing.

I noticed the Colt Python a mere second before Lee fired it—into my heart.  I always thought death was instantaneous when a bullet burst into a vital organ.  But I was dead wrong . . . literally . . . there’s a split “reality check” second.

So, yes, sure, you can kill off your central character.  And it wouldn’t be that difficult.  But do be imaginative.  And remember this: you’d be limited in the sequel department, unless you plan to bring your protagonist back from the hereafter . . . as a narrating ghost . . . ?

Author: tylerus

I'm primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (I enjoy playing detective and developing structure). My fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. My genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction. So-o, here I am, staring up a new blog for aspiring and established e-Book writers. The plan: to share the (long) journey of getting to this stage, and share "learnings" and "teachings". There's a lot I hope to accomplish with this blog, but it may be a while before that happens as there's a lot on the ol' plate - taking care of Mom, working full-time, and attempting to get another book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series written (never mind blog postings and other writing projects). It's very challenging and it's all good. As I like to say: teeny focused baby steps are just as effective as long forceful strides. It may take a little longer, but we will get there.

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