1. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    Removing plot elements for the sake of the story

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Pepsik, Dec 16, 2014.

    Hello everyone! Lately I've been writing a story and so far it's going great. Except for one problem I can't seem to get over. During the making of the story, I had a certain vision for it that hadn't changed for a while. However a few weeks ago, in an attempt to add things and rearrange the story so that it makes sense, I thought up of a character, a villain. This villain was the answer to all the problems I had in my head. His motives, his back story, his character in general was the puzzle piece to making my story a coherent story from beginning to end.

    The problem with this character, and the problem I now face and that's bothering me, is that this new villain renders my old villain completely irrelevant to the story in the grand scheme of things. My problem is that I LOVE my old villain and the character that he's become. I have lots fun writing the old villain, but the new villain makes more sense and ultimately makes the story complete. There is no room for the old villain in this story anymore, but I don't want to completely scrap the character because I've grown too attached to him. Which I feel is why I'm so torn on whether or not to scrap the character or to somehow work him into this story that is otherwise complete. The old villain was supposed to be the main bad guy all the way until the end of the story. Bit now the new villain is the main baddie. So I don't know what to do with the old villain anymore. I'm not finished with planning out the story, by the way.


    So I ask you guys, have you ever had to scrap entire characters or arcs or plot elments that you've grown attached to but didn't really want to neglect? If so, how'd you deal with it and what was your solution? Do you have any advice for my situation?
     
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  2. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Yes I have and it proved quite complicated!

    I had a family; a young man, his mother and his grandfather. Whilst I liked the grandfather character, the 'voice of reason' in the family unit, he actually started to hinder my plot as I didn't need a voice of reason and he was becoming unnecessary. Ultimately, I had to get rid of him. It got me out of a hole but I was half way through writing which was just a pain.

    It really depends how relevant the old villain is. Is he setting up for something much worse, is he the tip of the iceberg? Could you demote him to a kind of 'henchman' figure? I think it's an acceptable plot development to have more than one villain so it sounds doable but it's all down to how he adds to the story.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A saying I learned in business class: "Don't fall in love with your assets."

    What it means in business is sell when you need to, don't let an emotional attachment interfere.

    I am attached to my first chapter, but at the moment it is shelved. It didn't work, as much as I loved it. That's much simpler than a character or story arc, but the principle is the same.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Have you considered taking the old villain out of the current story, and simply putting him into a new story of his own?

    Alternatively, is there any way the old villain could perhaps work with the new one, be his partner or underling or informat or some kind?

    PS. as people say, if you wanna be a good writer, you gotta learn to "kill your darlings".

    Ultimately, whatever you do, do it for the sake of the story.
     
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  5. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    The thing with putting the old villain into his own story is that his motives, what made him who he is, are very specific to the current story I'm writing. His character lives because of the context of my story and its world, so I don't think it would work putting him
    into another story as the other story would have to be a copy of my current one.

    The old villain is the product of the world he lives in, so I do think I can fit him in somewhere. It's just that I've had him pegged as the MAIN villain for so long that it's sort of difficult to make his story fit within the current story with the new villain because the old villain and his story was meant to be the story's finale for so long. That's kind of why I'm in a pickle.
     
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  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Why do you need only one 'main' villain? Why not have two?
     
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  7. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    Because the story only needs one main villain. Which is part of my problem.
     
  8. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    If you're adamant you can only have one villain I think the only thing you can do is get rid of the first villain. You could transfer some of his personality or backstory into the new one, or take what you like about the character and file it away for something. Doesn't have to be a carbon copy.
     
  9. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    It's not that the story only requires one villain over all, it's that the new villain is the only villain in my story that is introduced and remains THE threat from the beginning of the story until the very end of the story. Of course I do have other villains, but like their stories, those villains come and go and don't really serve a purpose in the finale. Whereas the new villain remains a constant threat that affects the story and the characters throughout out the entire story. My problem is that the old villain, for so long, was never meant to be just another villain.
     
  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I had this issue in my first novel. When I wrote out the story line the main villain was Leo - violent, moody, dangerous rather predictable but the more I created the story another character popped up - Charlie. He was charismatic, sexy, deadlier than Leo, and charming. I preferred his chameleon like character and Charlie took over Leo's spot. But I didn't want to ditch Leo. So he became Charlie's subtle right hand man, he was also living a double life, as a cop/crook. But with Leo's past and his guilt over living his double life he becomes fixated on Charlie's lover and decides to take her, by selling Charlie out to his competitors. The novel became richer because the characters didn't remain in my mind standard characters. They became people ( albeit dangerous evil people ) with wants, needs even frailties/weaknesses.

    Don't decide anything too soon. This discover of Charlie and the relationship between him and Leo took months to sort out. ( But I was about 14 at the time I doubt it would take that long now. ) The fact that you want to hang on to the first villain either means you feel bad about ditching something that you took so long to create or there is something there you need.
     
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  11. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    Why not save the old villain for a new story?
     
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  12. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe you could write a sequel that takes place in the same story-universe? That way, both villains can get the screen time you want, and you don't have to sacrifice backstory by creating two different universes.

    I know the advice on this site is "don't set out to write a series," but if you already have A) one definite book that was originally intended to stand on it's own and B) a good idea for a second book, then the usual concern of "publishers don't want to hear about sequels when the first book isn't satisfying" might not matter as much.
     
  13. ogu
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    ogu New Member

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    Make him the competition? Villain of the villain who wants the same thing?
    Series idea is not bad also, main one can be the villain for the entire series while the old one is just for the first book. If nothing is working just get rid of him, you will probably feel bad doing that but later you'll get over it and know you did what was necessary and be happy with your end product.
     
  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I've written over 700 000 words in order to create my 57 000 word (current count) novel.

    I have many documents with the old parts that I have removed, kept for reference. Some of it may be used for another story. Or even to start another story.

    Take out your old villain and use them for a new story.

    Write, edit, strip, repeat.
     
  15. karmazon
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    "Kill your darlings" is the old saying. You're, presumably, writing for readers, so do what makes the story better not what you're attached to.
     
  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If you give yourself enough time, you might well find a way to keep both 'villains.' If you've fallen in love with your old villain, is there some way he could be changed a bit? Find some redeeming qualities, maybe? Maybe make him a catalyst for some events or situations? Spend some time thinking: I want to keep BOTH of these characters. Who knows? You might well get your Eureka moment. It's those Eureka moments, when a story problem suddenly solves itself, that make writing so much fun.
     
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