Too little consistency with the characters?

by Cleo


First of all, thank you very much for all the useful information and help you’re providing, your website has already helped me a lot.

My question is:

I have worked on a fantasy series for quite some time and I have everything planned but didn’t start writing yet.

The story has a timespan of about forty years and I divide it into four books.

It’s about a revolution and tells the life of the man who started it, my protagonist. The whole story is basically about him and all the other characters are somehow affected by his actions. But he is not the main character, since the reader doesn’t see the story through his eyes but instead through multiple POVs of the people surrounding him (friends and enemies alike).
Four of them are the main characters, but three of them don’t get introduced from the start (one at the end of the first book, the other two in the second one), but they are all alive in the end.

The protagonist on the other hand is there from the start but dies in the middle of the fourth book, and most other people who appeared right from the start don’t make it till the end.

I have reasons for every character’s death and it also just wouldn’t be believable for less of them to die, because a revolution is just violent, there are two wars because of it (a war with another country and then a civil war), there’s no modern medicine and the story stretches over a long time (forty years), so I thought it was okay to kill off that many, but now I realized that in fact only one character (the main character who appears from the start) is there during the entire story while all the others either die or
get introduced later in the story.

Can this work or will the potential reader get too annoyed when I often kill characters off and introduce new ones?

I know that in a book almost everything can work if you only do it well enough, but since I don’t have experience in writing I’m really insecure about that. Do you maybe have any tips on what I should or shouldn’t do?

I apologize for the long question and thank you in advance.

Answer: On the surface I don't see a problem, especially since this is a series, so presumably the deaths will be spaced out.

Since the main character survives, the arc of his internal struggle should be completed in the fourth book. Until then, the main character can't permanently change his nature or approach, though he should be pressured to do so. A reader who likes the main character will want him to be basically the same in each book, though you do have the option of having him change when he resolves his inner conflict in the last book.

One thing to consider is who the impact character will be. For instance, if it is the protagonist, then the main character's inner conflict may be about how the protagonist's example caused him to change his approach.

I doubt the external or overall story will be disrupted by the deaths of minor characters. Some stories, especially those about war and politics, have larger body counts, and readers expect this. I, Claudius is an example that comes to mind in which the main character outlives many of the other characters.

Four books should translate well into four acts of the series arc. You may want to make each book tell a complete story in itself while also serving as part of the overall story.

Best of luck.

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