Trust, and a very sharp knife

Yesterday morning I sat down at my desk, hardly able to stand it.  I had read over book ten on Friday, and all weekend I had changes I wanted to make going through my head.  I was so very eager to hammer them into existence, it was almost a fever.

Today, I’m still eager to get to my desk, but the excitement has been tempered with the reins of indecision.  I am taking out a new character and replacing him with someone else, and the more I pick at the threads to remove him, the more emotionally harder for me it becomes.  He’s got some very cool lines and makes some interesting observations that only he can do because of his background.  Letting go of these elements is hard, and I’m torn as to let them go completely, or try to have another character, or even Rachel herself, come to the same conclusions.  I know it will smooth out in a few chapters when this new character starts exerting his own ideas and conclusions, but right now it seems all I’m doing is taking, not giving.

I don’t have a reader between me and my editor, so no one is ever going to meet this fully-written, compleate guy, and that’s some of my reticence.  He’s very cool, and I miss him already.  It can be hard to take out sections of your work if you don’t trust yourself as a writer to replace what you are taking.  I know the new character will have ten times the impact on Rachel and the story once I get him in there, but today . . .  Today is hard, even as it’s exhilarating seeing the changes begin and working to make them seamless.  It takes trust in yourself, and a very sharp knife.

23 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

23 responses to “Trust, and a very sharp knife

  1. amyplumbooks

    That sounds painful! Maybe you can save the cut-out character for another book? Then you won’t have to say goodbye.

  2. Tiffany

    I can only imagine how hard it is to cut out an entire character you’d developed and given a purpose and cool lines.  Plus if this character’s observations were important, I can see how the threads of that are hard to remove.  That’s such an interesting dilemma.  So you need a knife that’s sharp enough to cut out this character without tearing away his impact, right?  Just shifting it.  Or maybe not.  (And yeah, I can see what you mean about feeling sad about no one knowing this character ever existed and had an impact).  With the new character having his own ideas and conclusions (with 10 times the impact), you probably don’t fully know what it’s going to be replaced with – but judging from how excited you were this weekend, it sounds like you’ve got something great.  Follow your instincts… You’re a brilliant writer.  I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  3. I just experienced a similar thing not a month ago with my WIP. I added a very cool character in the last third of the book. She really brought something to the story (as in “a major story arc”). And then I realized that it would be overwhelming for the reader and that it actually shifted the focus and mood of the story so far.
    So with great pain, a sharp knife and trust, I cut the character out. Along with 20k words and the whole story arc.
    It was the right thing to do but it was very hard.
    But since the character has her place in the series (if ever I get there), I’m keeping her scenes in my back pocket because her story is just meant to be delayed.

    And that cut out character of yours sounds really intriguing. The new one too.😉

    • That’s it perfectly, Aheila! It sounds like you have a character who is so intriguing that she tried to steal the spotlight a bit too soon. Back-pocket characters are the best, because when they finally do get the timing right, they shine and shine.

      Good for you for recognizing it. Excellent!

  4. JanisHarrison

    Yes, surgery is the term I use, to pare away the redundancies and slice out the diversions in order to make the story flow. And the most painful of all is a character who ends up not being the right fit. However, as already suggested, perhaps he will stand in the wings, ready for his turn in another story… How remarkable of you, it shows your maturity in your craft, to be able to do the first re-read and make those decisions.

    • Hi Janis.
      This guy, I don’t think will ever show up in the Hollows. It’s too late in the game for what he would bring to the stage. But pieces of him will show up in other series. 😉

  5. You say so much in such a short missive, Kim. Know that what you share teaches this writer that the pain of letting go (of paragraphs, scenes, characters) can be a healing once the writer mends.

    • Thank you, Jeannie. Thank you, very much. Knowing you’re finding something in my words to hone your craft with makes me feel peaceful, somehow. Good luck with your work. It’s a fabulous job if you have the mindset for it.

  6. SeattleRobin

    Ouch. That sounds painful. Good luck with the character surgery.

  7. Hello Ms. Harrison, 🙂 I’m sorry about the characters, but glad that you can make things flow. My original characters (especially those who I’ve been working with for more than a decade) are very dear to me, lol, like friends. Or. Closer. Somehow, lol. Can’t explain it without going mad. Anyway, what I want to say is that I feel for you, and I understood this post.🙂
    Thank you for sharing, I hope your knife was sharp enough.
    Alyss
    P.S. Jumping on the band wagon *whistles* You know… I can read too… If you need a second opinion. I read very well… lol.😉 And I can give you an international opinion…

    • Hi Alyssa. -grin- No thank you. I’d rather keep the story close to me without outside influences as I try to figure out what I’m trying to say and the best way to say it.

  8. Robert Callaway

    can he be used in a short story?

    • Hi Robert. That’s a good idea, but not in this case. If he were around, he’d be around, and having him there and be gone wouldn’t make sense. But I will use chunks of him in other places.

  9. NiNi

    I thought this post was going to be about pumpkin carving!

    I know it must be painful to say goodbye to someone the readers haven’t had a chance to meet, but I’m sure you will carve him up so the important bits still get in the story. Can’t wait to read it.

  10. suzannelazear

    It’s very hard and I’ve been known to cry when removing characters. I have a chronic problem with too many characters, lol

    Good luck with the revisions, and you’re right, it’ll be stronger and better but killing the babies is hard. ~hugs~

    No beta reader between you and your editor? Not even the hubby? Wow. Color me impressed. I’m still at the “I need beta readers to look over everything so I don’t miss something stupid/obvious” stage. (Not that I let my hubby read any of my stuff, lol)

    Have a great day

    ~S

  11. Jenn

    I know how real your characters are for you & I can only try to understand what it is like to let a character go. But if you know that the replacement character is going to bring more depth to the story & be a better foil for Rachel, then I can see why you are making the changes & I’m sure that they will be good ones.
    *kof* If you want a reader between you & the editor, I would be happy to volunteer! ;0)
    I hope you have a productive & fantastic day!

    • Sabrina

      I’m right there with you, Jenn! I’d be very delighted to read your work even before your edititor gets a chance to have a go at it, Kim ;-)!

    • Hi Jenn. Fortunately this guy is fairly new to my thoughts, so cutting him out wasn’t as bad as say, killing a character. It’s like he never lived. Mmmm, I think I saw that somewhere in a Dr. Who episode. . . -grin-