Something About Addy: When Should You Kill A Character?
September 17, 2008
I can’t quite make up my mind if I should kill off characters or let them be for a while. It sounds rather bloodthirsty, but in a way it’s also a bit of growth, changing my mind if you will. It becomes harder when the character grows on you, or you had major plans for that character and it doesn’t seem to be working for the novel. Sometimes killing them off is a good thing, mostly because you have to try to “reason away” passions and feelings. It’s not a mistake, it’s a draft for a reason, although with an outline you can save a lot of problems because you can see where the characters are going.On the other hand when I write my nonfiction book, I can’t really kill people who aren’t dead off now can I?
In both cases the answer is yes, in a way you can kill characters off.
For example rewriting a draft might mean you take away someone who is important to a person in real life but in that instance, for the nonfiction part, they aren’t really there, or present, you can simply not write them in at all. Or, if it’s fiction, they just don’t fit the fiction theme or plot in which you’re going for- in early or later drafts. This character needs to go– even if you love them, your are writing for a living and you need to write well to get this book published.
Funny thing, I think I am a theme sort of writer and like to deal with “Big Issues” but then forget how a person actually got out the door of life in the first place. There is a history a story, a reason, and in some ways, my characters don’t have that reason at the moment.
Not so hard yet, at least in the first or second drafts, but looking ahead, at the same time it’s impossible to define. How do you decide who is important enough to get a backstory and expand on it. Who is a bit character that doesn’t make sense as a major character.
I know that a rough draft is exactly that, so here is to hoping (HINT!!) my beta readers will read through their things (my drafts) so that I can get to where I need and fast. Maybe it’s my level of frustration, and how we can make it better. I think I wrote it too fast, and this is what makes me worried that I didn’t make a good enough character.
Or this might mean I am dead in the water, as the best writers say to read something over two days is good, but when it takes your own family and friends millions of years (I know it’s not taking that long!) to read something simple, then maybe it’s time to toss it. Maybe it’s time to kill off or limit the character you like because they are the main plot headache you have that you wouldn’t otherwise.