When does point of view (POV) prevent killing off a character in fiction?

Jump to Last Post 1-8 of 8 discussions (15 posts)
  1. cam8510 profile image91
    cam8510posted 9 years ago

    When does point of view (POV) prevent killing off a character in fiction?

    In a short fiction, written in first person, my main character/narrator is dying at the end.  I understand that he couldn't actually die at that moment because he is the person telling the story.  Is it legitimate for him to be in the very near his certain death (within moments) when the story ends?  I hope my question is clear.  I can try to clarify if not.

  2. tillsontitan profile image83
    tillsontitanposted 9 years ago

    I don't see why not.  If he is able to tell the story till the end his imminent death should not affect anything but his demise.

    1. cam8510 profile image91
      cam8510posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Mary, that is how I felt, but I still had this feeling that he'd have to live afterward to be able to tell the story.  I'll see what others think, but thanks for your input.

  3. Rolly A Chabot profile image82
    Rolly A Chabotposted 9 years ago

    Chris... I do agree, he should be able to speak in his own person. Don't you just hate it when you have a good character slip from your grasp...


    1. cam8510 profile image91
      cam8510posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Rolly, I just want to clarify.  My character is not dead at the end of the story.  Is that enough or does it need to imply that he lived long afterward?

  4. profile image52
    aharrisposted 9 years ago

    Your questions is clear. It is not uncommon for writers to paint themselves into a corner.  I once sat on a story for 2 years before figuring out how to end it in a way that would not crush my protagonist, because he didn't deserve that.  It took a while, but one day it just came to me how to end his story, not his spirit.

    Alice Sebold made telling a story from the afterlife popular in "The Lovely Bones" in 2002. It's an overdone motif now. 

    But, you could reincarnate your guy and not tell your audience until the end that he is speaking through his reborn self that emerged as a baby born at the moment of his death and is able, somehow, to "remember" his prior life.  Or perhaps his spirit jumps from his just-dead body to the nearest fresh one like Brad Pitt does when he personifies Death in "Meet Joe Black" using the body of a guy killed in a traffic accident who, like Jesus (according to believers), enables a super-being to experience what it is like to be a living mortal.

    Some authors might inform readers at the end that they have been reading a dead character's journal all along (a little like S.E.Hinton does in "The Outsiders"), although you'd be adding the footnotes, I guess. Maybe his wife is writing the final chapter after he's gone.  Or maybe you could reveal at the very end that the protagonist is "acting" in 1st person to tell you about the person whose identity he stole...he would have had to have known the deceased very well (best friend or relative) and anyone who does this is already ethically challenged and knows how to prevaricate, so he could just be telling the reader directly - or through an interrogator - about the person whose Social Security number and the life attached to it he stole.  Maybe your protagonist is an impersonator whose widow-now-wife was in on it all along and your readers don't know until the end that, out of guilt, your protagonist is using first person to tell the story of the guy he is now pretending to be, and leave the paranormal stuff out.

    Please consider looking into the TV series "Legends" with Sean Bean and "Forever" with Ioan Gruffudd in leading roles,  Both deal in their own way with being something other than they appear.

    For every one of these ideas, there must be 10 more that have already worked or could.

    1. cam8510 profile image91
      cam8510posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I appreciate the straightforward answer, that I had painted myself into a corner. I also appreciate the time you took to develop solutions.  I'm coming to my own resolution now, by reading the answers here, and one suggestion in the story's comments.

  5. M. T. Dremer profile image86
    M. T. Dremerposted 9 years ago

    I think it depends on the style of the story. If you're implying that the character lived long enough to write this story, then I can see why killing him in the end would make the reader confused about how he finished writing it. I ran into a similar situation when I framed a short story as journal entries. The protagonist dies in the end, but it doesn't make sense how she would have written the final journal entry.

    The solution would be, as you said, to imply that he lives a short while after this, but with the certainty that he will die. Or, alternatively, you could go a more spiritual route and act as he is conveying this to us, the reader, after his death. As aharris pointed out, many mainstream books have adopted the perspective of a deceased character.

    1. cam8510 profile image91
      cam8510posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I've actually used this once in a very early ff story I wrote.  It was published in an anthology, so somebody with a measure fo experience felt that it was an acceptable route to take.  Thanks for the help.

  6. dohn121 profile image82
    dohn121posted 9 years ago

    It's absolutely fine to kill off your first person narrator/main character and continue having him or her narrate the story even after he or she is dead.  In Stephen King's (or under the pen name Richard Bachman) story,"Thinner" the main character (spoiler alert) dies by the story's end and so in essence, he told the story from the grave which in turn would then make him an omniscient narrator.  I wrote a story similar to that in the same respect right here at HubPages called,"See You In the Bahamas."  My narrator dies at the end of the story just like King's main character in "Thinner."

    1. cam8510 profile image91
      cam8510posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for the concrete example of this being done before.  I actually did it once in a story I eventually had published, so it does seem to be acceptable.  I appreciate your thoughtful input.

  7. cam8510 profile image91
    cam8510posted 9 years ago

    Thanks for all the answers you have provided.  I've decided what to do, and I feel you deserve to be able to see what that is.  So I'm going to give the title of the story, not as blatant self promotion, but so you can see how you have helped me end my story in a believable way.  I have not added the ending yet, but I hope it will be by the end of the evening, Monday, April 13, 2015.  The title is A Patch of Blue Sky.  Find it on my profile page.

  8. Mark Lees profile image77
    Mark Leesposted 9 years ago

    It depends a little on the narrative style he is employing but it is absolutely possible and could well be very interesting.

    1. cam8510 profile image91
      cam8510posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Mark, if you want to see what I'm talking about, the title is A Patch of Blue Sky.  Check my profile page.

    2. Mark Lees profile image77
      Mark Leesposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      My prediction of interesting was right smile
      I think the narrative voice you used is perfect for your story.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)