Writing the death of a much-loved character can be demanding and can leave you inconsolable.
There is, however, another literary situation which can be just as challenging and it can cast a nasty gloom over your writing day – deleting a character from your story.
I am not talking about deleting a random minor character; someone who you created one day after too much coffee, inserted into the middle of your novel, just to beef it out (technical literary term) and then deleted them the following day after realising your stupidity. Sigh!
No – I am talking about when you make major changes to your draft and you decide to get rid of a key character. They will be a fictional person who has been with you since the start of your story and someone who you have history with. The awful thing is that you know a change like this needs to happen and..dare you say it..your story will be better without them.
This situation can play havoc with your emotions as you have to ERASE this fictional character from your story and then act like they NEVER existed!
You don’t know about literary heart-break until you have experienced severing all ties with a fictional character.
So, if you are an emotional writer like me, you will find deleting an existing character tough going.
Here are some useful tips on how to survive this dark literary time:
- Once you have made the decision to delete them from memory don’t spend hours deliberating. If your gut is saying ‘delete them!’ – do it!
- Save a copy of your draft with them playing a part in your story. You may need this when you wake in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, clutching your loved one and whispering “I shouldn’t have deleted [enter character name of choice]”.
- Perform your delete swiftly and humanely. They won’t feel a thing! Ask your ‘find’ button for some much-needed support with this.
- Prepare yourself in advance for a tough clean up operation post deletion. This will involve, what we in the trade like to call, some quick and dirty editing. Adjusting those scenes involving another character having a heated conversation with your now deleted character or where a character was in the middle of a romantic embrace with the one you have just cruelly deleted. The latter scenes are the hardest to mop up in this situation.
- Things will feel a bit different for a while after the deletion. You might feel a bit raw / needy for a few days. For noting: if your loved one is unsympathetic with you after a character death, don’t expect ANYTHING from them post a character deletion. The best you will get is an eye roll! You are on your own with this one.
- Tell yourself that your deleted character’s time will come again. Don’t dwell on the fact that you erased them from this story because they were dull / weak / surplus to requirements or replaced by a better looking character. Reassure yourself with a comforting phrase like square peg in a round hole!
- Prepare to hear your deleted character’s name in real life conversations after the deletion. Bite your bottom lip, steady yourself and go make yourself a nice sugary cup of tea.
- Talk your feelings through with a sympathetic writer friend.
Take it easy readers!
Have a great day!