When a character has to go

I’m in the middle of Editmania 2013. I’m revising the rough draft of my new novel. As is usual at this stage, the draft is a hot mess. It contains the plot, and a lot of sloppy writing, and too many characters. That’s because when I write rough drafts I just set my fingers on the keys, wire them up to a car battery, and crank the power to the max. Then I type until the battery, the keyboard, or the story explodes.

But when I rewrite, I need to look with a clear eye at everything on the page. And sometimes that means characters I like — characters who have a spark of personality and a reason to live — don’t actually advance the story. So, out comes the red pen of death.

Here’s an example:

Hank Villareal was jogging toward her.

Hank was six foot four, with hands bigger than Shaq’s. Put a bandolier on him and he could be halfway to Chewbacca, minus the tendency to rip people’s heads off. He was quietly brilliant, anxious about his prospects, and calming with other people. She adored him.

Sorry, Hank. Maybe next time.

And yes, snarkers: my Breaking Bad injury means that “clear eyed” is a euphemism. Hank still had to go.

8 responses to “When a character has to go

  1. Love this post

  2. No contest this year? So sad. A tradition that has come to an end. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Well, at least he’s going to be stillborn, possibly to live another day (okay, I’ve just finished a marathon read of Life After Life).

    After all, we’ve known you to decide that characters have to go — and then you kill them.

  4. oh, sorry about that weird ID. Left over from another blog comment….

  5. Wookies have a habit of ripping off arms, not heads.

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