1. CharlestsWhitfield
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    CharlestsWhitfield Member

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    Cutting a Character From Your Novel

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CharlestsWhitfield, Jan 27, 2014.

    I've run into a sad situation and realized it was best to cut one of the characters from my novel. The character is almost identical to my main character and doesn't really advance the plot. The sad part is, I came up with a back story, made the character interesting, and to cut the character out seems a little harsh. I knew going in I might have this problem, but I did it anyway to see how it would turn out.

    Have any of you had to cut a character out? Did you try hard to rewrite and work the character in? I tried several times, but it was no use.
     
  2. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Lost characters and scenes. Think this forum should have a thread cemetery for fallen characters, who never quite made it.

    First make sure all dialogue is out, lol so MC or someone isn't talking to a now non existent character. (has happened - ahem)

    Second, if you have back story etc. could you try CPR on them and save them. Could you look at the character, note down what makes them the same and how you can change them. By having a back-story your proving that they aren't the same others wise they would share it, so you have made subtle changes. And although they might not advance the plot, they can still act as company or advice or as a rescuer somewhere down the line, which in its own small way could advance it, even only slightly.
     
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  3. CharlestsWhitfield
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    CharlestsWhitfield Member

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    @SuperVenom - I was thinking the character could be used as a backup character maybe someone to rescue my MC when the time comes.
     
  4. Cailinfios
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    Cailinfios Member

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    You could always file their backstory and stuff away and use it for a different story later, just changing thier personality c: One of my MC's uses a back-story I developed for a completely different character several years ago!
     
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  5. CharlestsWhitfield
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    CharlestsWhitfield Member

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    @Cailinfios - Nice :)
     
  6. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I haven't had to drop a character completely, but I have had to commit the odd personality assassination, in order to provide necessary motivations for several other characters. In the case of the most recent, he now bears little resemblance to his previous incarnation, except for certain elements of back story, and while I mourn his loss, there is no doubt the story is better for it.

    Yep... I've done this too. I keep folders of locations, back stories, character ideas—things that work well in terms of writing, but didn't quite make the cut for various reasons. They may prove useful at some later point.
     
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  7. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    I concur! File the character away for a future project. I've got tons of characters like that on standby (mostly villains), and a whole host of absurd supporting characters that await their time to shine. If you want to have the character in the novel but don't want to put too much into them just yet, you could simply mention them, by name, with little to no actual narration about them. For example, in my current project, I have this poor bastard named Trevor whom I am saving for later, but I want to make sure that the reader vaguely remembers the name when the time comes to flesh him out in a later book. So during one scene in a crowded bar, I mention that Trevor was there too, sobbing into his drink and screaming about goblin balls as always. If your character has a particularly sharp hook to them, then when you finally get to a place where you can discuss them in detail then your readers will be relieved to finally hear about it.
     
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  8. La_Donna
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    La_Donna Member

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    I had a problem similar to this. I had two twin brothers (sake of argument, Bill and Tom).

    Bill was my main character, in love with my main female character, having to make all the big decisions in my story etc. Tom's role was basically just to roll his eyes at everything Bill did, especially at his relationship with the main female character.

    But suddenly Tom's snarky comments went from being just that to a character that was infinitely more complicated than Bill. I was half way through writing a chapter about Bill and my female character's relationship when I suddenly thought "Hang on...why is my female character with Bill when his much more attractive twin brother is wondering round the place?"

    Suddenly my whole story was different as I had to re-write situations with Tom in Bill's place. Several times I thought about cutting Bill out of the story, but then I decided that Bill could serve a good role being the calming influence on Tom.

    I tried writing a couple of scenes between them to see if their relationship (which I enjoyed writing) was worth preserving and it turns out it was. It might be an idea to try to re-cast your character as something else; maybe he was the main character, but could he now be a family member or a friend of the new main character? Is there another function he could serve in the story? Could he go from being the main character to an important influence on your new main character? From a hero to a villain? You say he is similar to the main character - could you have them both make a similar decision but make different choices, and therefore turn them both into the foils of each other?

    It's probably never a good idea to 'cut' a character (it takes a lot of rewriting!), so try him out against a few other scenes/settings/events to see if he can work in another way than you previously intended.
     
  9. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Exactly, they can be almost in the Background until needed. So the reader goes "oh that's why they are there" (at the worst) or at the best they see the character as an integral part of the plot without knowing they were a plot point.
     
  10. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    If a character is present and active in the noticeable parts of the chapters, cutting him from the story sounds to be difficult. such canceling may damages the sense of the story. Also you have to erase all his trace in the various location of the novel and I think it is not an easy work
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  11. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    I've had to cut PoV characters, but when I did that a new ones popped up, and thanks to the new PoV character another new character was introduced to the story, she just flew in as if nothing, her personality and type spot on from the first dialogue with her. (this is the supporting character to the PoV)

    I've been lucky I guess, but I've had to remove PoV's whereas I can get no replacement, but then again that adds a certain mystery and will give revelations later. I guess the level of impact of removing a character depends massively on what type of novel you're writing.
     
  12. yanlins
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    yanlins Member

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    If it comes down to the decision that you'll have to cut the character out, I say do it. The fact that you have reached this choice already indicates obvious problems in character development. Painful in the short run, but ultimately beneficial in the long one.

    Having said that, it's too difficult for me to cut a character out /completely/ though, especially if its one of my mains. I tend to merge them with existing characters (probably the first reason why you'd want to cut them out in the first place). But in doing so, I incorporate the most interesting parts of two characters into one, and that makes he/she a stronger character overall. There is still a sense of loss, but at least it's not so painful.
     
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  13. Bridget from NowNovel.com
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    Bridget from NowNovel.com Banned

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    Who said you have to kill your babies to succeed in writing - Stephen King? I've had to cut a character, and I still sometimes feel haunted by them... But if you keep them alive in your memory, maybe they'll make it into the next book?
     

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