By Nick “Novel” Gabanski
When you learn how to write and create stories, it’s often a good idea to start small. Poetry is a good intro, but so are short stories. There’s something I’ve noticed when it comes to green writers and their short stories though. Something that really ought to be covered in the creative writing classes.
You don’t need to kill off your main character(s) by the end of the story.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this done. I’ve even done it myself when I was writing my final project short story for Creative Writing (I was a senior in high school). I didn’t know how to end the story, so the only logical solution I could think of was to kill off all six characters in a nuclear explosion (it was about space-marines fighting a parasitic infestation that was not unlike the Flood from the Halo™ game franchise. Yes, I was really that unoriginal (sue me for being young). Point being though, when you write a short story, there are other ways to resolve the ending without bloodshed or tragic loss of life.
And anyone can make this mistake. I once got into a rather heated argument with a fellow student in my college years about this issue. He had done a story that was inspired a little too much by Fight Club and the conclusion to his story was the main protagonist getting killed because his playing Devil’s Advocate got him in trouble. Similarly, another student in the same class as him also ended her story with killing her main character off. It was like an infectious idea that unlearned writers all shared.
So, if in the future you feel the desire to write a short story, or you have to for a class, challenge yourself. I call this idea of killing the main character for the sake of ending the story a mistake because it’s the easy way out. Literally. Throw twists and curves at your audience and yourself. Leave us hanging and wondering what will happen next, even though the story has concluded. Challenge yourself, I implore you. It’s one of the reasons why we write.
Edited by Melissa Brooks