I’ve been editing my novel today through my third twelve-hour editathon. (It’s going well, by the way. I’m about a third of the way through writing in new scenes and changing the order, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to plugging in plot holes.) One thing I’ve had a hard time doing is cutting characters. Sometimes cutting a character is easy, such as when a character shows up in one of two scenes and plays no role in the story. Other times it’s a lot harder, such as when a character shows up and could play a role if the story were written differently or when the character is interesting but doesn’t play a role in the story.
Unfortunately there’s no place in a book for a boring or roleless character, but what happens to these characters when they’re cut? They get buried in the character graveyard, and then they go to character heaven, of course. I was sad about cutting these characters at first, especially the ditzy alternate version of my main character, but finding out they would have plenty of company in character heaven brought a big smile to my face. They’d be happier there frolicking among the character clouds and doing whatever they like there.
So rest in peace, ditzy alternate Brooklyn, Earl, Fred, officer Brooke, and all the characters I’ve cut from the pumpkin novel in the past year. You have served your purpose in this book, getting me past writer’s block and pushing me to the end of my first draft, but now I see that you deserve something than to be in a place where your existence would be questioned. Be free. Be happy. Remember that one day your book, like many other things in life, will whisper to you, and you should seize that opportunity with both hands and run with it.