Friday, September 28, 2012

Killing Off a Chapter of Darlings

Used Book Store Shelves, Greensboro, NC
In my last entry I wrote about the need to make your main characters suffer.  After all, without some intense conflict to overcome, how else are your readers going to get to see how cool your main character really is?

Not too surprisingly, this has be much on my  mind over the past few weeks as I've been back in the Deep End of the Revising Pool working on The Book.  One of the comments made early on by Agent #2 was that I was making things a bit too easy on my main character.  Basically, he comes from awful circumstances, is taken in to a grand home where everything in the house goes his way.  One character in particular is very helpful with encouragement and explanations.

In other words, boring.

One of the reasons I wasn't sure about revising The Book again was that I knew one of the changes was going to have to be with this supporting character.  I had him well set in my head in terms of personality, so that wasn't likely to change.  I knew I could change my main character's perceptions of this supporting character, but that meant rewriting large sections of the book and figuring out how to convey the information supporting character gave to the main character and the reader.

This week I hit a big chapter, one with lots of bits of dialog between these two characters that I liked a lot.  When I took a hard look at it, this revision didn't mean a simple random act of killing off my darlings, but killing off almost the entire chapter.  Out of fourteen Word pages I figured I could salvage about four.

My walking time to and from the bus stop and werk has provided me with some time to devote to keeping the chapter viable while making the story stronger.  I've outlined the basic idea and I think I've figured out a way to make it work.

So much of writing for me is finding the right puzzle pieces to make a scene/section/page/paragraph work.   How about you?

-- Tom