Thursday, January 16, 2014

Killing Your Darlings

or The Dangers of Thinking 'Outside the Box' Jenna Byrnes

This post was originally written a few years ago when I was a regular columnist on the 'Oh Get A Grip' blog. Hope you enjoy the reboot!

I thought long and hard about the subject this week, "Killing your darlings."


None of my darlings has ever died.

You see, I write HEA. Happily ever after. Killing off one of the main characters works directly against the HEA affect I strive to achieve.

Do I ever put them through torment before that last page is turned? Duh. Books need conflict, or there won't be an interesting story. Most often, the conflict involves something dreadful that's keeping Boy #1 away from Boy #2 (or Girl #1, if you swing in that direction!) As with most good movies or TV shows, the conflict could usually be solved if an objective third party would sit Numbers 1 and 2 down and set them straight with the facts. But that wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

Recently, I tried to kill off a character. Not a main, but a secondary 'snitch' that had a fairly decent role in a cop short story I wrote. As usual, I sent it to my second set of eyes, Jude Mason, for editing. She sent it back with some red marks, some nice comments, and the phrase, "I don't think killing that guy is going to work."


It was my story, and I wanted the dude to die, so I left it in. I got the acceptance back with a contract and short note from my editor, "I really don't think that guy should die at the end. Not a very 'romance novel' thing to do."

Well, whaddaya know? Jude Mason was right. LOL (Okay, she usually is. But sometimes I fight it as much as possible.) And so, with the click of a few keyboard keys, the snitch was pulled back from the brink of death and was healing nicely by the end of the story. I didn't really mind making the change, but sometimes I question the 'in the box' parameters that romance writers have to stick with. I get tired of men who must be alpha males, and just once, I'd like to send one careening over a cliff at the end of a book. I know, I know...not a very 'romance novel' thing to do. But I've often wanted to try my hand at horror. Maybe there, it would work.

Heh heh heh! 

Jenna Byrnes
Page Scorching Erotic Romance  


  1. Hi Jenna,
    I'm with you a death always racks up the tension.
    Great post.



    1. Thanks Margaret! I'm a sucker for romantic suspense, that's for sure.

  2. Death of a character would definitely be a downer!

    1. A main character, sure. I didn't think killing off a snitch would be so traumatic! LOL Thanks Ann.

  3. It's difficult to kill of a character to whom you've formed an attachment. I recently penned "A Novel Murder," and killed off the person I thought would be the less likely corpse, but according to reviews, my choice was predictable and the book, not well received. I guess I'll leave writing that genre to Joan Hall Hovey…the master…or mistress. I can't compete.

    1. LOL Ginger. I enjoyed A Novel Murder and think you are good at whatever you set your mind to. I love gay romantic suspense so that's my focus these days. Thanks for commenting!

  4. I killed a villain in one of my romance novels, a medieval. Well, actually, the hero's sidekick killed him off. ;) It seemed like the right thing to do and also appropriate for the era. No negative feedback on it so far, so it must have worked.

    Great post! :)

    1. Killing a villain is only appropriate, for sure! I'll bet the readers rooted for that to happen! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I guess I'd probably have to agree with Jude, but then all my romances have a HEA ending anyway. It's just too hard to kill off a character.


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