Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Difficult Choices In Your Writing...

Yesterday I made a drastic change to my current novel in progress.   I removed one character and chopped about 10,000 words from the manuscript.  Now I know the question on everyone's mind right now is probably "Why did you do that?" or "Gee I wonder what I should have for dinner tonight?"  If it's the second one, I'm sorry I can't help you there.  As for the first one, that's easy to answer, but it was a hard choice to make in the end.

The reason I dropped this character was because she was only a secondary figure, not one of the main ones.  And her storyline, which was going to end in a dramatic and unique death-scene was not pivotal to the overall story.  Also, her storyline was actually bringing the main story to a screeching halt while I dealt with her.  That was unnacceptable to me.  Now as the story's creator I tried to keep her in and work her story to blend with the main one.  But, she was proving too much of a distraction for the main characters who already had two major nemesis to deal with already.  This gal was just another antagonist who's goals were more petty and only served to demonstrate the power and abilities of one of the major villains.  Now that villain had already demonstrated several unique and terrifying talents already, so another one was not really needed for this novel.  However, it might prove useful in the next one where he appears yet again and in a much more formidable role.  So, I removed all reference to this woman and her death from my work in progress and saved her for the next book.  Or perhaps I'll use her in another work entirely, I'm really not sure yet.

I am happy to say that removing this character and the obstacles she presented to my main cast has allowed the story to move forward much faster and with more action.  Sometimes we have to make decisions like this on areas where the story is not moving along as well as it could.  Or if we're running too high a word count and something needs to go.  I'm glad I did this now instead of later.  Because I realized I was leaving the audience hanging on several fronts while dealing with this secondary character.

It's not always easy editing your own work, but it's a chore we have to do.  So make sure you occasionally stop and read over what you've done and ask the questions.  Does it make sense?  Is the story flowing smoothly the way I want?  Does something have to be changed or go entirely?  And if you do remove sections, save them in a file on your computer so you can recycle them for another story down the road.

That's all I have for now.  Take care and keep writing.