Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Kill Em

I had this character once whom I adored. Her dialogue was so easy to write and she was young, scrappy, and hungry, and I'm not giving away my shot. Oh  I loved her! I even named her after my childhood best friend and this character, in my mind, became a vital part of the book.

Everyone who read this character LOVED her and so when I first got a note from a CP that they loved the character, but that she didn't seem to have enough agency and kind of seemed pointless, I was like, "What? WRONG."

I brushed off that note and kept revising, but there was something about it that stuck with me. As I kept revising, I began to see what my CP was talking about. Her role in the story was spotty. She didn't seem to have enough of a purpose to be on the page all the time. She lacked a lot of depth outside her role of spurring the MC onto new plot points. Yeah she was funny and sarcastic and challenged my MC, but was that enough?

Sadly, I realized that my most favorite character I've ever written needed to go. Y'all, I was sad. It was truly like killing one of my kids—or like taking a time machine and altering the space-time continuum so that there was no kid ever in the first place.

It ended up being a much better thing. I was able to combine her character with another one and it COMPLETELY changed the pacing of the story for good. More than the benefit to the story, having the guts to cut her character (and all those awesome dialogue lines) gave me courage as a writer. Sometimes it can be hard to cut thousands of words. You're afraid you'll never get them back—as if revising them out means 10k less words you'll ever be able to write in your lifetime. But we both know that's not true.

Killing your darlings is a tough, but necessary tool writers have to use. We can't be a slave to our characters or even plots, we have to be always be writing in service to the story.

So if you're having a tough time with a particular plot line or a character, take a risk and remove it. See what happens! You might just find your story is stronger because of it.

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