Two too many?

Question: I've been working on a story for a while when I got the thought that the main character (Brooklynn) should die at the end. At first I thought it was a good idea but then I began to think that readers wouldn't like it because her "true love" (Andy) would be alone after they went through so much so then I decided she'd die and he'd kill himself. Would that be too much? Plus they have a child that would be left with a guy that the main character was once in love with. I feel like it's a weird ending and they wouldn't like it so should I kill off the character's' or keep them?


Answer: You have to decide what message you want to give your story in order to decide the most appropriate ending.

For instance, what is your story about? What concern or goal are most of your characters and especially your protagonist involved in or affected by? We call this the Story Goal.

What is the negative thing that will result if the Story Goal is not achieved? We call this the Consequence.

In some stories the outcome is that the Goal is achieved in the end. This is an outcome of Success. In others, the Consequence occurs instead, which is an outcome of Failure.

The other question to ask is whether the main character ends up happier or better off in the end. Clearly, in your story the main character ends up worse off. This implies that she made the wrong choice in how she resolved her inner conflict. Maybe she should have changed or tried a new approach but didn't. Maybe she did change when she should have stuck to her previous approach.

In a classic tragedy, when the main character makes the wrong choice it causes an outcome of Failure. The world of the story and most of the characters end up in an unfortunate state because the Consequence occurred. They failed to solve the problem. This would be the ending in which Andy dies and the child is left in a worse state. The message of the story is that Brooklyn should have acted differently.

On the other hand, in a comi-tragedy, the Goal can be achieved even if the main character ends up worse off. An example of this would be Romeo and Juliet, in which peace is achieved but the main character dies.

So if Brooklyn dies, but the other characters end up in a better state, the message is that she "did not die in vain," that something worthwhile resulted from (or perhaps despite) her demise.

Hope that helps.

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