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Forums > Social Discussion > Killing Lead Characters in Literature

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:There is alot of talk of Rowling killing Harry Potter in the 7th book, thus closing the door for other authors to write further books on him in the future. However, with series it usually doesn't work.
Look at poor Doyle, forced to make Sherlock live from his fall because of the outrage.

Two American authors (King and Irving) have also made pleas for her not to kill him.

Even before I started reading the reports on Rowling it is something I was thinking about. Recently I have been reading Hamiltons Anita Blake series (well, the last couple of books I missed) and I found myself thinking that it was time that she killed of the lead character and focussed on her other series, or even shifted the characters in the series (there are enough of them) to follow them instead.

Do you think there is a point where authors just take it too far and need to let go, or do you think they shouldn't kill the leads and just leave it for someone else to run with?

Or it could be like Lestat who fades in and out at leisure.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Flanimal_Lover


member
Location: Slough Massive, UK

Total posts: 43
Posted:Perhap he could be wiped of his powers....?

Poi-er to the People!

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coleman
SILVER Member since Aug 2002

coleman

big and good and broken
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay

Total posts: 7330
Posted:its rowling's character - she should go wherever her narrative takes her shrug

i think that the phenomenon of other authors trying to direct the creative direction of a peer's work (just so they can cash in on it at a later date) is unacceptable, not to mention plain lazy.

there are plenty of other great characters in her books to rip off if other authors want to...


cole. x


"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Okay...Harry was meant to be an example for a wider range of happenings.

I absolutely agree with killing lead characters. It sucks but it also protects the work of the writer. I would be heart broken to find something I'd worked long and hard to create being bastardized by some two bit hack who couldn't come up with an original idea. Return to the House of Usher is a good example of this, by someone who claims to be a distant relative of Poe for example. It's aweful!!!

Yet, it is one of those things where I also get frustrated when they bring them back from the dead because then it seems a little too about the money.

*shrug*


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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jo_rhymes
SILVER Member since Apr 2005

jo_rhymes

Momma Bear
Location: Telford, Shrops

Total posts: 4525
Posted:J.K Rowling had the whole story planned out when she began. books 1-7. I don't know what will happen to Harry but I'll expect he'll die.
I agree with Cole, it's her character, she can do whatever she wants! If someone objects they should write their own story with their own characters. smile


Hoppers are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: jo_rhymes


J.K Rowling had the whole story planned out when she began. books 1-7. I don't know what will happen to Harry but I'll expect he'll die.
I agree with Cole, it's her character, she can do whatever she wants! If someone objects they should write their own story with their own characters. smile



She said years ago that she hasn't followed that plan for the last several books. She is coming around to the end the way she planned but that pretty much everything in the middle has been organic. It is why the deaths of the characters thusfar has been quire suprising to her. In this final one she says two major characters die and one get a reprieve, none of which she planned.

I think that these two authors were not encouraging her from a place where they can cash in on it, and in fact, they don't need to. Stephen King and Irving are two very prolific and wealthy writers of their own accord. I think they were doing it as a point of integrity. I think their place of advisement comes from not wanting to see her regret it and bring Harry back later, thus discreditting his death...and her motives.

Stephen King actually mentions something along those lines in his auto-biographical "On Writing".

I see both sides...and yes, all characters are for an author to with as they will. But I was asking for your opinion on death-comebacks and/or the "theft" (as I see it) of major characters for someone else to use later.

Do you see the death as a preservationist move?
Then how do you see it when they are brought back?
Are there characters in books that you think have worn out their welcome and should just die and be left to the grave?
Do you think other hacks should be able to write these characters?

Or what about posthumous ghost writing? That is not something I agree with either. V.C. Andrews is a fantastic example of this. The woman has been dead for years. Her notes were long used up and her stories finished. Her family contracted a ghost writer to keep going, under her name. This new writer does not have the creative vision or the masochism that made the original books what they were, and thus this writer is sullying the name of an amazing author, just because the family refuses to let her die.

Gene Roddenbury is another example of this.
Frank Herburts son is doing the same thing.

I think it shouldn't be allowed and it is tragic.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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jo_rhymes
SILVER Member since Apr 2005

jo_rhymes

Momma Bear
Location: Telford, Shrops

Total posts: 4525
Posted:yep, as much as i love harry, he should just die at the end of book 7, taking voldemorte with him, wrapping everything up nicely smile

Hoppers are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

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ado-p
GOLD Member since May 2004

ado-p

Pirate Ninja
Location: Galway/Ireland

Total posts: 3882
Posted:The very idea of an author making a public statement about what they think another author should do with their writing is nuts.

It puts pressure on the author that never should have been there.


Love is the law.

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coleman
SILVER Member since Aug 2002

coleman

big and good and broken
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay

Total posts: 7330
Posted:pele, where did your hear about king and irving make these pleas?

i found this news story which tells us they were all in the same room but makes no mention of them asking or recommending that rowling change the plot of her final potter book.

and seriously, fox news aren't usually ones to miss out on a story, no matter how tenuous the source!


cole. x


"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood

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Beth


Beth

Miss Whippy
Location: Cornwall & Oxford

Total posts: 1262
Posted:Speaking from experience, killing off characters in fiction is actually really fun for the writer. Its hugely liberating because then, finally, the story or series is over and you never have to look at it again. All series' have to come to an end and in literature that end usually means the death of the main character. It adds finality and closure. Although a good way to get rid of a character but leaving the option open for return is to imprison them somehow... maybe she'll do that.

JK Rowling has been writing about Harry Potter for 7? 8? years, tbh shes probably getting sick of him and wants it to end. Her work is copyrighted to the last word so theres no way that any other writer could get authorised use of the characters without vast sums of money, unless they wait til 70 years after she dies when the copyright runs out, then its open season on harry.

King and Irving probably said that because they are fans and don't want to see a beloved character die. Same as i'm sure most of the younger fans would be horrified.

Though one of the things thats been on my mind since Potter began is, what is she going to write afterwards? Can anything she writes next top Harry Potter? I really hope she doesnt end up a one-series-wonder.


Aim high and you'll know your limits, aim low and you'll never know how high you could have climbed.

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Neon_Shaolin
GOLD Member since Jul 2005

Neon_Shaolin

hehe, 'Member' huhuh
Location: Behind you. With Jam

Total posts: 6120
Posted:Worse thing that could happen would be for her to crash while driving in the snow, rescued by her No.1 fan and tortured into ressurrecting Harry Potter...



"You dirty bird! How could?! He cannot be dead! Harry Potter CANNOT be dead...! I DON'T WANT HIS SPIRIT! I WANT HIM! AND *YOU* MURDERED HIM!!!"



biggrin



Ironic how Stephen King was one for trying to convince her not to kill Harry off...


"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

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jo_rhymes
SILVER Member since Apr 2005

jo_rhymes

Momma Bear
Location: Telford, Shrops

Total posts: 4525
Posted:Jo Rowling used to live next door to my dad's best friends in chipping sodbury. yep, they were called "The Potter Family". My dad's off to see them tomorrow and everytime he visits it's "I'm off to see Harry Potter tomorrow". It's very annoying. It's not like He Who Must Not Be Named is hanging about The Oak in Chipping Sodbury!

Hoppers are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: coleman


pele, where did your hear about king and irving make these pleas?

i found this news story which tells us they were all in the same room but makes no mention of them asking or recommending that rowling change the plot of her final potter book.

and seriously, fox news aren't usually ones to miss out on a story, no matter how tenuous the source!


cole. x



CNN.com and Rauters both ran the story.

I no longer have an address bar (long story) otherwise I would have cut and paste it.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: Beth



JK Rowling has been writing about Harry Potter for 7? 8? years, tbh shes probably getting sick of him and wants it to end. Her work is copyrighted to the last word so theres no way that any other writer could get authorised use of the characters without vast sums of money, unless they wait til 70 years after she dies when the copyright runs out, then its open season on harry.





In the U.S., the bodies of work are protected under copyright. Character names are not. So if someone else wanted to write about a magic boy named Harry Potter they could as long as no other element to the original storyline exsisted, thus riding on her success for his/her own.

It would go to court.
She would win.
But it has happened and it is more pain than it is worth.

Originally she said she wouldn't write more.
If she is a true writer, like many who attempt to retire, she will be back.
If she had this one good idea, then probably not.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Beth


Beth

Miss Whippy
Location: Cornwall & Oxford

Total posts: 1262
Posted:JK Rowling doesnt have standard copyright on her work. She/Bloomsbury own the rights to every single aspect of the story (except translation and merchandising rights which they sold to other companies), including character names. I made sure i asked about that when i worked in the Rights department at Bloomsbury publishers this summer smile

Aim high and you'll know your limits, aim low and you'll never know how high you could have climbed.

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Which then means she is full of --it.
Her main excuse she gives when his death comes up is so no one will "steal" him.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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hamamelis
BRONZE Member since Jan 2006

hamamelis

nut.
Location: Bouncing off the walls.

Total posts: 756
Posted:Should make the copycat suicides interesting if she does kill him off...

*cough*

Mind you, in certain circumstances, other authors can add to older stories, has anyone read any of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars books? They use some of the same characters, very true to the originals, but are largely concerned with new ones in the same general universe.. They're actually an improvement on the original books, in my opinion..

Admittedly, the originals were books-of-the-films, which is maybe a little different..
Plus there are a fair few talentless folks that cashed in on the name too. shrug
I just ignore books 'in the same series' by different authors generally.. You don't *have* to read them.


THE MEEK WILL INHERIT THE EARTH!


If that's okay with you?

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SpitFire
GOLD Member since Dec 2002

Mand's Girl....and The Not So Shy One
Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada

Total posts: 2723
Posted:I'm not sure, but I think there would be copyright issues for other writers to work in the world created by Rowling, and using Harry Potter as a character.

I know a few writers who don't allow fan fiction of their work, and stress that anyone who does write fan fiction within their universe are breaking copyright laws.

Mind, I'm not an expert, and am just giving what little bit of information I know....

My opinion, though? If the character development is still strong, and the plots are unique, then why limit yourself as a writer? I think it is important to know when to pull the plug, but I think, legally, you can protect your creation so others can't use the foundation you've created, and make a buck.

Just my humble two cents.


Solitude sometimes speaks to you, and you should listen.

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Dunc
GOLD Member since Aug 2003

Dunc

playing the days away
Location: The Middle lands

Total posts: 7263
Posted:Kill him! devil

I suppose he's the literary fictional version of legends like Jimi Hendrix and James Dean. Imagine if they'd grown old...they'd probably dwindle into really boring wastes of space but instead they went out on a huge high and were legends for ever more.

Kill him!! spank


Let's relight this forum ubblove

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Pele,

You have the strangest rants. Ever.

Which is an accomplishment taking into account all of Lightning's rants.

hug


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: NYC


Pele,

You have the strangest rants. Ever.

Which is an accomplishment taking into account all of Lightning's rants.

hug




Ummmm...thank you?
You know as well as I do that is not a rant, simply starting a discussion. My rants involve alot stronger language and generally more aggressive smilies. wink

But read it as you will cause I like winning things. wink

And your opinion NYC is?


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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coleman
SILVER Member since Aug 2002

coleman

big and good and broken
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay

Total posts: 7330
Posted: Written by: Pele



CNN.com and Reuters both ran the story.





cheers pele.



for those interested, here's the link: link





beth and pele - copyright law relating to fictional characters gets very blurry once the author dies - that's what rowling actually said in fact:

"I understand why an author would kill a character from the point of view of not allowing others to continue writing after the original author is dead,"



with cases like harry potter, where the character is very popular and appears in more than one form (written, motion picture), the law allows the copyrighting of the character by the author/creator - once they die, the film/publishing companies can protect their property (the films and books) but have no rights to the actual character.



though its unlikely to happen considering the success of the brand and how much it is worth, if there is no claim to copyright made when rowling dies, then harry would simply fall into the public domain.



for those who like to read about how silly law can be sometimes, this is a great topic.

http://www.ivanhoffman.com/characters.html
br>
http://www.chillingeffects.org/fanfic/faq.cgi
br>


where's pat when you need him eh...? rolleyes wink





cole. x


"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted: Written by: Pele



And your opinion NYC is?



Well "Harry Potter Dies At The End Of The Next Book" has been a joke ever since the second book came out.

As I've not read any of them, I say that the next book should be a 900 page account of the most graphic and grotesque death in the history of literature.

You know, for the kids.


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: NYC


 Written by: Pele



And your opinion NYC is?



Well "Harry Potter Dies At The End Of The Next Book" has been a joke ever since the second book came out.

As I've not read any of them, I say that the next book should be a 900 page account of the most graphic and grotesque death in the history of literature.

You know, for the kids.



The rate she's going that might work. They stopped being kids stories a couple books ago.
Maybe she picked up pointers from King?

Not your genre or not into hype...or is it that Molly hasn't gotten your reading level up to them yet? tongue hug


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:I think more writers should have the guts to kill their characters off as most of the plotlines tend to go downhill in relation to number of books... I don't know about Harry Potter, I haven't actually read them either, but if the plan was that he was doomed, i think she should stick to it, and he should die. I just think you can't hang on to a character forever and if he's harry potter, people will obviously try, JK rowling will have publishers on her back to write more, small children will beg her in the street. If he's dies, he's dead nothing more you can do about it. Unless Hogwarts is destroyed she had opportunity to develop a new generation of wizards, so not all is lost.... and that can be quite interesting...

ref back to Pele's first post, i liked the Vampire chronicles because the character focus changed but they all took place in the same setting, however she like Lestat too much and having made him superimmortal, can't get rid of him, IMHO his character wasn't interesting anymore...

I think the best stories are those where it's just like a bit of a fictional life, that you (as the reader) happen to be part of, and once it's over, you never know what happens to that chracter again. you don't really know their before life and you don't their future, only what is current. and i like that real-time feel about it, i don't really want to know their ultimate fate...


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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K__
BRONZE Member since Jun 2006

K__

...join us...
Location: Oxford

Total posts: 184
Posted:One of my work colleagues reckons it will be a crime against literature and will put children off reading if Harry is killed off. She maintains that having invested so much time and effort in reading the series, they'll be so devasted when Harry dies that they'll become disillusioned with reading and not want to bother with it in future.

I don't see it like that at all and don't think she's giving kids enough credit. Yeah, they might be upset that Harry's dead and the series is over, but I think they'll see past that to recognise they loved the experience that reading provided them with.


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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:I think kids would barely notice, if they enjoyed the books, they'll keep reading... having said that i still have a book that i started reading at the age of 10 and have never finished because i flicked to the end and found piccadilly (a talking mouse who lived in the sewer underneath deptford...) died! so i stopped reading there and then, it's even still got the bookmark in... So probably it's best if the wee kiddies don't know HP's going to die beforehand biggrin

Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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K__
BRONZE Member since Jun 2006

K__

...join us...
Location: Oxford

Total posts: 184
Posted:The Deptford Mice! I loved those books biggrin

I'd forgotten Piccadilly died... clearly I wasn't so traumatized it put me off reading wink


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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted: Written by: Pele


Not your genre or not into hype...or is it that Molly hasn't gotten your reading level up to them yet? tongue hug



Yeah, I don't read fiction much anymore. But I also stopped watching that many movies for some reason so I think it cancels out. Hrm... I don't spin fire much either... what the heck DO I do anymore? confused

Back on topic, I borrowed Molly's Poirot's Short Stories (Agatha Christie) and had to stop after the fiftienth story because the constant death after death after death got a bit depressing. But they weren't, of course, lead characters.


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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Dr_Molly


Dr_Molly

Pooh-Bah
Location: Away from home

Total posts: 2354
Posted: Written by: Pele


Not your genre or not into hype...or is it that Molly hasn't gotten your reading level up to them yet? tongue hug



Sorry Pele,

I've read precisely one page of Harry Potter in my life and that was only because I was giving storytime to a bus full of pooks and there was nothing else to read smile

So kill him, turn him into jam or give him a new career as a ballerina, it's all the same to me wink


(For my on topic opinion - it seems a bit mercenary to tailor your writing to the demands of your fans, but that's a gut reaction without too much thought behind it)


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IgnisLeo
GOLD Member since Aug 2005

Member
Location: lower saxony, Germany

Total posts: 13
Posted:Apart from the legal issues concerning copyright and making money, I think sometimes it is indeed wise for an author to let his lead character die. I think there are situations where it puts a true, if sad, end to a plot, and sometimes it is the death of the main character which actually tightens the emotional connection between the character and the reader, although this sounds bizarre (but it works, especially in movies).

Regarding the Harry-Potter-Series I would actually be surprised if he survives the 7th book, considering the dynamic and darkness of the 6th. For my part I expect a scene where he rescues his friends and dies, taking Voldemort with him, which would be the "classic" sacrifice in literature.

By the way, It's my opinion that the comparison between Harry and Sherloc Holmes is not entirely correct. Sir A.C. Doyle created with Holmes a character which could go on and on forever, as it was a series of books having not such an arc of tension connecting the different books as the Potter-Series has. Holmes grew far to popular, Doyle got "tired" and tried to "get rid" of Holmes just to never have to think about him again.

In contrast the Potter-Books actually have a strong arc of tension between them, all of the books being part of a ongoing story which needs to be brought to an end, just like every single book of the series needs an end for themselves. And as there is a continuing increase in the climaxes in the single books, the climax for the great story between the books needs to be greater, and there are not many choices...

IgnisLeo


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