Monday, January 10, 2011

An update.. and deciding if a character needs to be killed off.

Since I did my getting serious post I have gone over approx 100 pages of my WIP, and then hit a brick wall.

You see, I have a character who is giving me mixed messages about whether she should be kept or not. I have a few options for what I can do with her. She's got good conflict potential for my MC down the track, and she lightens the mood of the story in places because my MC can be quite dark. She wants to join the fight. Her family were all killed by the Big Evil Antagonist afterall, so she has a reason to get in there.

At the same time she's just kind of... useless. She gets scared in the fight scenes and doesn't help and it's up to the other characters to convince her to keep going, and to rescue her from time to time.

This could just be a symptom of not developing the character well enough.

The way I see it I have three options:
  1. Kill her off. It'll create some instantaneous conflict but I think, since she hasn't been part of the story for all that long, it will feel a bit superficial.
  2. Leave her behind. She's served her purpose in the story in helping the MC grow. Leave her somewhere and keep going without her.
  3. Go back to square one, develop the character a bit more, see if she can be fleshed out so she's not such a drain on everyone else's energy.
None of these three are jumping out at me as the perfect solution. Without a clear path in mind I'm going to keep pushing forward, leaving her in there for now, and if she continues to irritate me and serve no purpose in increasing the conflict and moving the story forward, she will be culled. Either by being written out of the story or by being killed.

How do you deal with characters who won't play ball? Do you cull or compromise? How do you know it's just not working anymore?


  1. Hello SariBelle, lovely to meet you. Thank you for finding me and leaving that heart-warming message. I haven't checked my Publication Party post below to see if you've left a comment. If not, take yourself back and have a read as when I read your aspirations I thought well, I hope you're going to joing the party and meet more writers/authors, maybe win a prize and pick up a critique or a CP if you wish.

    I hope to follow your journey to publication also!

  2. I got rid of Zelle when I realised she had got into the novel just to say one thing!
    That one thing was necessary (it's a glorious red herring) so I gave it to another character.

    Zelle was a character I really liked so it was hard to pull her out. But she just wasn't pulling her weight. Travelling with three other characters overland to Morocco from London she didn't speak to anyone other than the main character :D

    The alternative was to rewrite interactions between Zelle and the other characters. But as there was no need for her to be there it meant a lot more work to write her in!

    How much do you like your character?
    How much more work do you need to do to fit her in?
    How much is that going to add to your book?
    Whatever you decide to do, Good luck :)

  3. Hi Denise, thanks for stopping by. I'll definitely check out the publication party post. I hope things are looking up in Brisbane for you today.

    Hi Prue, sounds like you were in a similar situation to me. I'm glad you figured out how to resolve the issue! I'm quite the pantster, so I think I'm going to need to renounce my ways and do a bit of plotting. At least that way I'll know if she's going to be needed for later scenes and conflict. I'd hate to write her out now only to find I really need her later. Thanks for the comment :)