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.
It's always fun to see how a character changes from idea to final copy. And it's a great feeling when you like the plot more after cutting a character. Great post, thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thanks Cherie! Yes, sometimes it can be hard at first to know if it's the right decision, but as time passes I think the choice to cut or not cut becomes pretty clear. :-)Delete
I'd love to see some of those deleted boyfriend scenes on your blog ;) And very cool to read about how your characters change, or grow superfluous, through your process! Through writing the first draft, it seems like I usually end up liking characters more and realizing that I want to leverage them more than I initially plotted. Great post!ReplyDelete
It is funny how some of them take on a life of their own--or change in ways we didn't at first plan on.Delete