Sunday, 19 February 2012


As I am polishing, revising, and cutting my YA novel for the umpteenth time in an effort to adhere to the "less is more" idiom, I did something that I'm still in shock over...

I killed a character.

Not in a dramatic one-two punch that's designed for readers to first fall in love, and then, lose a character (and hopefully by that stage, a friend). No, I've decided to annihilate every last trace of the character so that she never even existed.

This troubles me. I didn't see it coming. It certainly wasn't premeditated. And she's a major player in the unfolding of events - sometimes, she actually is the only one who knows what is happening, and therefore informs the reader through her presence. But despite her importance, it became clear a few days ago that she had to go. She was so weak. She didn't belong. She wasn't real...

And so the axe fell.

The messy aftermath is there for me to clean up. There's no need for luminol and black-light to see the hidden traces of blood spatter - it's all there in the succeeding chapters after her introduction (and now demise). I find I am having to erase all notions of reference and find other creative ways to use 'heralds' throughout the stories to propel the narrative in her stead.

The carnage is brutal, but it is containable. And when I am done with the clean-up, the story will be a tighter, more cohesive entity that will serve the manuscript well.

When I devoured Stephen King's excellent book, 'On Writing,' years ago, I didn't realize I'd take his "kill your darlings..." quote beyond editing prose and into dispatching a character. But I have.

And now I feel guilty. And my hands feel a little dirty...

1 comment:

  1. I was saying, "Kill your darlings" as I was reading the post and you actually quoted it! For me, if you can remove something and still have a story, you probably should.