In the world of fantasy, our characters will often find themselves up against an impossible foe or battling some kind of deadly magic. It’s remarkable to watch how they struggle and (sometimes) overcome the challenges that seem to our mere mortal minds – impossible. It is in this reflection that, as an author, I know there are some questions that come up and maybe even some ‘did that just happen’ moments.
The header image above is exactly how I would describe some characters approach to conflict. One character in particular stands out in my mind, Stein; standing in the center of opposition, daunting and unflinching. Now, Stein is incredibly powerful and has a wealth of power and resilience. Without a doubt, he is a fierce foe to be reckoned with – I don’t recommend it. If you’ve read into Chapter 5 of Radiant Heroes, you know exactly how he fights and what he is capable of. His tactics are his identity, strong, nimble, fearless and at the center of the action. Because of this, you know his identity and where he will be when a fight breaks out. You also know him. You know Stein, well enough to know when he is going to win or lose. Can Stein die? Yes, of course. Will it be difficult to kill him? Absolutely.
Nothing against Stein, but personally, I am a huge fan of the underdog. Nothing is more exciting than when David takes down Goliath. I mean, was anyone cheering for Goliath?! Eventually though there does come a time when the creator shouldn’t take the easy way out and have some overpowered stranger arrive just in time to save our less worthy character.
Here’s a situation and please, tell me how the hero is going to slash their way out of this one!
Yes – this hero is in a tight spot.
Now, of course there are going to come times when, only in the face of death, our character might tap into some unknown power and be able to take down the giant serpent with one sweep of their blade. Or perhaps as they see other friends being beaten down by the creature they may be able to awaken the dormant spirit of the demon that lives inside them. Take your pick, sounds like a nice twist with opportunity for further plots. Eventually, I know I get really tired of watching a “hero” get pummeled around every time to have someone or something else carry them through their adventure.
On to the big question – when should a main character die? For me the answer is evident again in Chapter 5, no spoilers on who was slain please. The character should die when they die. What do I mean? As an author, not to pull a punch and offer him/her an easy;
“…and they were teleport to safety by a cloaked wizard who then vanishes.”
It isn’t mysterious. As a reader, I’m not further invested or curious as to why or how and I don’t think you are either. If you are going to write a story where the character is outgunned, let the character flee, struggle and escape, or die. Don’t steal the moment from me! Or at least make it funny to, let me know you are mocking me to save the protagonist you’ve developed.
“…and they were teleport to safety by a cloaked wizard who then vanished; leaving behind only a mound of wood-shavings and faint smell of aged cheese.”
Look at that! Now I’m curious, why the shavings and the smell? What kind of weird magic are they using? I might find these in my house, is this based on an actual spell? You have not only saved your character, but you have my attention.
In summary, don’t be afraid to let a character go. Death, retreat, retirement, etc. It’s a lot like the world we live in; there is a whole world of characters in your story, don’t let one ruin for you or your fans.
Looking for adventure? Check back here at mcgrimm.blog for more and pick up your copy of episode 1; Radiant Heroes – Episode 1: A Fantastic Youth.
If you already own yours, please leave me a 5-star review and thank you for all your love and support.