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Giving up on a character:
Element of loveNothing wrong with resting with a character.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
darthnazgulWell, I recently made the decision to erase the existence of a character. They contributed nothing and were there merely for sympathy, which is something that I feel pretty guilty about. However, with the simple act of them being gone it's actually added an extra dimension to a character that really needed one.
My name is darthnazgul and TV Tropes has ruined my life.
Easily entertainedDepending on how strict you are in definition, I've axed anywhere from four to eight major characters. (Four retconned, two left floating in the 'verse background but not the story itself, and two reduced to Posthumous Characters.) It Gets Easier, and the characters that survive the ruthless culling become stronger and more interesting for it. As cold as it sounds, they're tools, not people, tools to be taken apart, recombined, and put back together as necessary. But I admit, I often completely forget the above advice. The first few hurt in particular: one of them had been a pet project of mine for months, but had to be eliminated because he'd turned into an infallible mouthpiece for my philosophical views at the time, and I figured termination was safer than attempting redemption. Another was the leader of an organization that just was just too generically evil to keep around, even though I'd been worldbuilding for it, and developing the character himself, for over a year. But now that my plot has finally started to properly crystallize, the elimination rate has gone down considerably.
edited 27th Aug '12 4:15:50 PM by KillerClowns
edited 27th Aug '12 6:34:02 PM by PsychoFreaX
Does it count if it's someone else's characters? I once edited a script where I completely excised a character whose presence was actively harming the story and taking major plot events away from the supposed leads (as it was supposed to be a story of three feuding brothers, and the girl was the love interest of the second main character). Only to be told by the writer-director that she'd already cast her best friend in the role, that they needed this particular actress to help train the guys to sing, and that I needed to find other things for her to do instead; all while only being allowed to add about an extra 5 minutes of run-time. Happy days.
edited 27th Aug '12 6:09:40 PM by peasant
Eye'm the cutest!I've Zig-Zagged this. I've given up and thrown away characters who would have had a lot more focus than they ended up having if they remained present at all. Conversely, some characters who in early stages of my writing were intended to die ended up sticking around and gaining development.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
And that's why I tend to avoid collaborative works. On topic, I really hate having to do this. But sometimes, "having to do this" really is the only way to describe it. Once or twice, it's been because the characters in question are honestly beyond salvaging, but much more frequently the reason I cut a character is because they don't fit in well with the rest of the story. In those cases, at least, I can always try recycling them later on.
Wolf1066One that springs to mind is a character I came up with - one of the Big Bad's minions who does a Heel-Face Turn part way through the story - who was going to wind up being a semi-regular in any sequels. Somewhere along the way I realised the Big Bad was a two-dimensional Victorian Villain in all aspects but for the twirling of moustachios and was Too Dumb to Live, so I started writing him as if he actually had a brain cell. The first casualty was the aforementioned character, whom the Big Bad killed off before he could blow the whistle. Consequently, the Big Bad came across as smarter and more dangerous and everything the protagonists learned from their "informant" was learned forensically. It also meant the protagonists had to play smarter as well. I was sad to have to kill off the character, but the improvements to the story and the other characters more than compensated for it.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
Agree with nrjxll. More often, I feel, it's more of a recycling or retooling of a character - taking certain bits/details of the old one (be it a name, personality, relationship with another character) as inspiration for a new one to either take its place or to be used in a different capacity. That being said, I certainly think that doing something like this is fairly drastic, desperate and difficult (heh.. triple D's). It would require a lot of reworking to remove and replace an entire character along with all his/her actions and contributions in a piece of work; depending how far you've already gotten.
I've dropped friends, enemies, even parental units; I've axed monsters of the week and one character whose only purpose was to be killed off. The current protagonist of my night market series is a bellhop/pianist who originally started out as a wizard/god/anthropomorphic personification of chaos. He was such a Gary Stu that I had to drop him for a while until I learned to stop writing author avatars for myself. Now he's more developed and not annoying to read and write about.
Winter is coming.
I recently cut two characters out of a story of mine. They are still alive and in the same universe for if I ever want them to go into a different story. There just wasn't enough space for me to develop them or give them enough plot attention.
HappinessIt used to be hard for me cut characters since I viewed them as people, and put so much effort into making them seem real that I felt like I was throwing away all that work. Nowadays, if someone is an active detriment to my story and/or nothing is lost from cutting them and their purpose can be served by someone else, they're out. Besides, I can always recycle them for something else where they would be a better fit, or at least take solace that they have their own story to deal with. I'm one of those writers who believes that everyone is the hero of their own story, so, yeah.
Pirate AND writer!I've dropped characters when the story changed around enough that they no longer fit into it. And if completely redesigning a character counts as dropping them, then I've done that as well.
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Total posts: 17
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