1. Eli
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    Eli Member

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    Dropping a character completely.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Eli, Jan 31, 2009.

    Ok well I've got to make a decision. I cut a storyline out of my book, because of this I have a redundant character, his only use was to introduce a little back-story for the sub-plot I cut and he was only in two scene (albeit long ones). Now I know I should just drop him but I really liked writing him. He was one of the only characters in there who was drawn from life.

    So would it be vain for me to keep him in there just for the heck of it?

    Have you ever had to drop a character you liked?
     
  2. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    One of the rules of writing is that you're supposed to be able to kill your babies when it's necessary. It sounds like you've already determined that your character serves no purpose in your book. If he's not there to push the story forward, you should eliminate him, no matter how in love with him you are.

    Now, having said that, I know how you feel, and I realize that advice is easier said than done. You just have to be brutal. Does he advance the plot? Does he add to the reader's experience or enjoyment? If not, then nix him. Or maybe you could repurpose him--give him a role or purpose that currently belongs to another character or invent an all new subplot for him to take part in. But if he's just window dressing, he probably ought to go.
     
  3. Penny Dreadful
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    Penny Dreadful Senior Member

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    I have one character who's sort of straddling being cut. His role in the storyline was divided up between other characters. I'm still considering still having him in the background since he is a servant, and no other servants in the book have names.

    I don't think the character being drawn from real life is any good reason to cut a characters. Usually, it's best to make things sort of... streamline, but it's still your book. If you love a useless character, I say keep 'em. The world is full of interesting, useless people. XD
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If the character doesn't contribute to the story, ditch him. Save him for another story.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't tend to drop characters who are already there because they usually wouldn't be there unless I needed and wanted them there. But there have been times when I wanted characters to be in a story yet there was no place for them, so they never appeared. They tend to show up at the point when they are needed, even if it's much later on. I trust in my characters to do the right thing.

    I do have a novel I wrote where I'm going to have to tweak or get rid of a subplot featuring a few characters, but I wrote that years ago.

    If your character honestly has no place in the story, you should remove him. If you like him well enough, perhaps he can find a story of his own.

    (Jeez, I used the word "there" a lot! :redface: )
     
  6. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you really like the character, you should want to see him live up to his full potential. That means not having him stand around doing nothing. If he's gonna be dead space -- even if that space is easy on the eyes -- drop him.

    Also, writing can sometimes be like casting; you want to pick the best characters possible. If this guy is so awesome, you may be able to drop one of your other characters and have him take his/her place.

    But make sure the end result is an improvement and not simply an attempt to shoe-horn a fav character into the story.
     
  7. Diet Aether
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    Diet Aether Member

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    If you were writing a screenplay, i would suggest dropping him entirely, as theres not enough screen time for anything but the most relevant of plot details. However, since it's a book there are plenty of places for seemingly useless characters. As long as they serve a purpose in the world itself, those plot irrelevant characters can be the best kind of Chekhov's Guns. Give him an offer he cant refuse and make him The Judas; Capture him and make him the Distressed Damsel; Kill him and have his death weigh on the hearts and minds of the other characters; Make him try to steal the world-ending-mcguffin and fail, taking the attention away from the true villain... You get the idea. There's a place for everyone and if you can find it, invent it.
     
  8. The-anonymous-writer
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    The-anonymous-writer New Member

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    I think if you really like him then you should keep him in the story but maybe you could go through your story and try to add him in a little more.
     
  9. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Writing needs to be concise and specific, especially in today's dog eat dog market, so it probably won't be worthwhile, from a publisher's perspective, to waste space with a superflous character. Cut and move on.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I second what cog said, or you could give him/her a new role in the story.
     
  11. delhi
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    delhi Member

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    So do I. You can love your character as much as you want, but if it's useless for that story, don't use it. Go on with that story, and leave that character. If you force him/her into a plot or milieu or whatever and it's not where he/she belongs, you'll ruin it all. Better kill it - if you truly like him, you can create another background for him to develop.
     
  12. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    I hate having to killing off any of the good guys but sometimes you have to. I have a particular character in a story I've been writing for years now, and I feel I have no choice but to kill her off. Sometimes you need a victim that you and your readers have grown quite fond of to keep a good story going. It stinks I agree, like I said I hate killing off the good guys but sometimes you just have too. I have even considered bringing them back to life (then I remind myself this isn't a soap opera!), but you just need to force them to stay dead if they had already served their purpose. Growing attached to your characters is a good thing though, it means your doing something right!
     
  13. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    Edit out all redundancies. This will keep your work out of the slush pile. Editors, I've read, are picky about details. Removing the character does not need to be wasteful; as Cog mentioned, save him for another story.
     

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