And trust me, writing is a lot like a war sometimes. Yesterday wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be after girding my armor on here at the blog. I bravely went forth and cut out every cool thing associated with my lost character in the first four chapters, and found it still read pretty good. The tiny bit where we see the new character was intriguing, not in how it reflected upon Rachel, but on how it reflected upon himself, as short as the passage was. He was alive in 600 words, his own person, someone who didn’t need Rachel to be fleshed out and important.
I guess what I’m saying, is that if you have to cut, then cut and cut ruthlessly so you can let go and open your creativity completely upon the new. If you don’t, you will have regret, and regret can lead to a mish-mash that is harder to make into strong, effective writing. I’m not talking about blending two characters into one, because that can be a capital solution in some cases. I’m talking about trying to fit a set of responses and rules onto a character they don’t sit well in just so you can keep a passage of writing you like. (Sorry, I don’t think I’m explaining it very well.)
Do I mind throwing out chapter-size chunks? Not in rough draft. I spent very little time (comparatively) on what I’m tossing. If I had gone over and over and over these chapters to make them perfect, I might be sick at the wasted effort. That’s why I always tell people to not go back and make changes in earlier chapters when you’re in rough draft. Just make a note in the margin of the chapter you need to change so you don’t forget, pretend you made the changes, and keep forging ahead. Rough draft is quick, fast, and dirty, especially for the new writer still evolving his or her method. Trust me, you will be rewriting this monster several times before publication anyway. You have chances to tweak and polish.
Do I mind throwing out a chapter once I’m through with rough draft? Not really, because at this point, there will be a very clear and definite reason for it. The first and last chapter you guys read is often not the chapter that I’ve been working with for the last two years. First and last have very definite goals, and they often need to be molded last-minute to reflect changes in the middle. And that’s okay, too. 😉
Nothing is wasted. I likely won’t ever use the character I’m cutting. He won’t show up in a short story, and he won’t appear in another series. But pieces of him will. 😉