Leaving Successful Characters Dead or Alive

An interesting question was asked within my email writing group this morning – A Fantasy Writer’s Dream.

To start with, here’s a quote by J K Rowling, which she is reported to have said about her main character, Harry:

I have never been tempted to kill him off before the final book because I’ve always planned seven books, and I want to finish on seven books. I can completely understand, however, the mentality of an author who thinks, ‘Well, I’m gonna kill them off because that means there can be no non-author-written sequels. So it will end with me, and after I’m dead and gone they won’t be able to bring back the character.’

The question was something along the lines of, with the above quote in mind, how would you finish this series?

As I said, I think this is an interesting quote and question. I have never before thought about the consequences of leaving a successful main character alive at the end of a series. I know with certainty that I wouldn’t want another writer – no matter how good they were – to bring my character(s) back to life by writing a sequel, but does that mean we have to kill all the main characters off? We shouldn’t have to do that in order to end a series, permanently. And…what right does another author have to “adopt” someone else’s characters and write a sequel? It’s wrong!

If you were J K Rowling, would you kill Harry off in the final book? Or, would you risk leaving an opening for another writer, in years to come, to write a sequel? And…turning this question to your own writing…would you leave your main characters dead or alive?

What are your thoughts and feelings on this matter?

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