Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye


“Sorry Shannon. It’s not you. You’re great! Unfortunately, I have to let you go. There’s just so many others and while you’re doing a great job, they’re bringing what the book needs right now. Don’t worry. I’ll keep you in mind for the future and maybe we can bring you back. Thank you for sticking with us all this time and I’m sorry it has to end.”

There’s one character in my book who isn’t very important to the story. She has a few nice scenes and fits in nicely with the rest of the cast. The only problem is there is only one scene where she is key and it’s not like that’s impossible to rewrite. In fact, rewrites would probably be minimal if it was eliminated. There is more of her in the rest of the book but nothing about it as a whole would suffer.

It’s unfortunate. She’s been a character ever since the inception of this novel. And I like her. She’s shy, naïve, low on confidence. And reading that, I can see why she has to go. She lacks the energy to bring her to life, the “it” factor I’ve found in all the other characters.

Maybe someday I’ll find a place for her in another book (a sequel? Perhaps!). What do you guys do when you chose to cut out a character? Do you hate to see them go as much as I do?

18 comments:

  1. It depends on how attached I am to the character. Perhaps there is another book that is all her own.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  2. Awww, bye Shannon. Always have a place in my heart as well. :)

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  3. I have a little character graveyard in a spiral notebook. I have a small service each time I send one to it. No not really. lol ... but I do have a notebook I keep for characters who don't make the cut. It's always a little sad, but sometimes they just have to go.

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  4. Hi Crusader. *waves* Oh no I'm so sorry. I had a character that I dearly loved but he had to die. I tried to save him but it would have been cheating the story line and his death put a lot of conflict for my MC's. I was a little upset over that scene but he had run his course.

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  5. I had to murder off a character last year (during my brief venture into the world of YA thrillers), and it broke my heart. But it needed to be done, so I know how you feel :) Nice to meet a fellow Crusader!

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  6. Hi,JE. I'm a Crusader and following you back. I like your blog template...looks familiar. ; )

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  7. I had a character with a great backstory and connection to a main character. But while writing the first draft, I kept forgetting to put her in (she just wasn't showing up places). So, in the next draft, I had to let her go. I don't miss her, though.

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  8. Whenever I've had to cut out characters, I feel like I'm disappointing a friend. I keep a file, a character rolodex of sorts. So when a character needs to be cut from one story, I move everything (i.e., character development worksheets, all the deleted scenes, and anything else I've gathered for that character) into that folder. That way, if I find that the character will work in another story I don't have to start from scratch.

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  9. Shannon, we hardly knew you.

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  10. It's so easy to get attached to our characters. I find it hard enough changing their names!

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  11. I find I really get to know my characters. It's as hard to let one go as it is to change their name (which seems weird)

    Great to meet you, crusader.

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  12. Hi Crusader,

    Just popping by because at the moment we are in the same crusader group!

    though id say helloo and all.

    I am in process of editing out a character as well. book too short to deal with her. might be a bit cliche. Hard thing to do. Good luck

    Constance
    http://precociousscribe.blogspot.com/

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  13. Hello, fellow group crusader!

    Here are my thoughts: Sometimes it breaks my heart to have to edit out a character I love, but there are times it has to be done for the sake of the story. I think there are always times when that character could enter into a new story though — that's what I love about writing: the endless possibilities.

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  14. More often than not, I keep them with just a mention, weaving them into the sequel. JK Rowling did that all the time. Mention a character briefly, who assumed larger importance later on. Roland

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  15. Oh, I know how you feel. I literally cried what I decided to get rid of a character.

    Nice to 'meet' a fellow crusader! Hope you hear from you on my blog in the future!

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  16. I'm a member of your Crusade group, stopping by to say hi!

    Interesting post. I can't tell you how I feel when I cut a character, because I haven't had the guts to do that yet! (But even that probably tells you how I'll feel when I do eventually have to do it...like cutting a limb off, perhaps?) You're a better writer than I for being able to do what you need to do to make your work better! Kudos!

    Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

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  17. Death isn't uncommon in my recent novel, and there have been points in my writing/reading of it that I had to stop and breathe and cry. (seriously.) Shannon should be happy. At least she's just being removed and not killed off.

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  18. Bye, Shannon, don't forget to write!

    The only similar experience I've had was deciding not to write in the appearance of a character's mother in the WIP. I decided to leave it until another book.

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Please validate me.