Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kicking Out Your Friends

First: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare's cover is finally here!! I can't wait to have this book in my hands already.

In the course of BB's revisions, I removed a character. It felt like I was kicking a friend out of my house, but I still did it because it had to be done.

Despite the initial sadness that comes with saying goodbye to one of my characters, I feel a lot better for having Robbie gone now.

Here are 5 ways to tell if you might need to cut a character:

  1. He/she doesn't add anything to the story or anything they do add could just as easily be done by another character
  2. You have a lot of characters in a short space already.
  3. He/she leaves after a short portion of the book without adding anything. (Robbie leaves before the second half of the book. The only thing he really added to the story was helping out Carter and that can easily be done by another character.)
  4. There are lots of hanging plot threads centered around him. With Robbie, his leaving the ranch is a big deal. All the characters get together for a goodbye ride and picnic. The thing is, nothing happens during the celebration. An event that was meant to garner more tension just fell flat and didn't really go anywhere. It was almost too easy to cut the whole scene and character and hopefully bring in some more action later that doesn't slow the pacing down.)
  5. You can easily imagine life without that character.
If you said yes to any of the things above (especially the first or last one), then you might want to consider removing that character. An easy way to do so is do a Find search for the character's name. Then you can just cut out any mention of them and clean up any references with another pass through the story. If the character plays a role anywhere that can't be removed, see if that role could be taken by another character. This can even be a great way to find places to expand tension and character development with that character.


Erin said...

Congrats on making the necessary change! I know I'll have to do the same at some point, but it sounds so hard. Thanks for the tips. =)

Sarah said...

Yes! Great post. We have to be merciless with trimming all but the essentials--these are great tips.