I’ve never really had a character change SO MUCH by the end of the first draft that it creates a continuity problem. I mean, we want our characters to change and grow, of course, as our story progresses—that’s character development—but have I had one of them change so much that they have actually become someone else??
Hmm. In my original conception of ASCENDANT, in the thinking and mulling stage before I realized it was a YA story, my main character was a college student working on her Ph.D who was delving into the mysteries of alchemy. So yes, I have had a character change, but because I’m a “mostly plotter” I usually have a pretty solid plan in place before I start writing.
That college student never even took a breath in the first draft!
On a more recent project, THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA, I did cut a superfluous character altogether. In chapter two, I had my main character, Carmen, falling for and starting to date a guy—but it did nothing for moving the plot forward.
Her thoughts, feelings, and actions with this character did reveal Carmen’s inner insecurities, but there was a much easier, and less time consuming way to do that without the need for this tertiary boyfriend character going nowhere. To confuse matters more, when she meets her “guide” in the desert, the guide looks just like the guy she was falling for and she ends up calling him the same name.
Hello, editing required!
So yes, I have chopped out entire people from my books and left them writhing on the cutting room floor. I can always tell I’ve made a good choice when it pleases me to see them gone and I end up with a much cleaner, more direct and enjoyable plot.