I host a thread over on Wattpad.com called: ‘Teen Writers- Need Writing Help? The Teacher Is In’, where users, mostly teenagers, are invited to ask me any writing related question. I never pretend to know everything, and Lord knows I don’t, but I do the best I can to shell out some advice. Some users are brand-spankin’ new to writing, while others have been doing it forever. I thought it’d be a great idea to share some of the questions I’ve received, and some of the “advice” I’ve given.
I’m pretty sure every author worries about how their readers will perceive the end of their book. I know I certainly do. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of sharing the end of my series with my fans, but I’m already riddled with anxiety. And when you end your book by killing off the main character? Oof! No doubt there is going to be some backlash.
A good friend of mine, author Len Webster, had a similar experience that she shared with me. One of her widely popular books didn’t end with a happily ever after. It was the way she’d always imagined the story going, but apparently some of her fans disagreed. Some of the messages she got from them you would f believe! You’d think Len had kicked a puppy!
But the truth is, not all stories have happy endings; they certainly don’t in real life, and this certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t stories worth telling.
Honestly though, I don’t remember William Shakespeare adding an author’s note at the end of Romeo & Juliet explaining why the two love interests in his play didn’t get to run off into the sunset together. I don’t recall Steinbeck apologizing for why he had George kill Lenny in Of Mice and Men. And I know for sure Lousia May Alcott never said sorry for killing off Beth in Little Women because I’m sure, like me, a lot of you are still waiting for that apology.
If you’ve set your story up properly, and you built up to this tragic event, there shouldn’t be any need to explain to your readers why the main character was killed off. But if you’re getting a lot of readers on Wattpad giving you heat over the ending, and you want to include a note explaining yourself and politely telling them to get over it, that’s totally acceptable too. Whatever works for you. No judgement here.
Buy any of Len Webster’s amazing books here: