I’m deep into writing my first novel. On Friday I had almost 50,000 words, a clear story outline and a plan to finish the first draft in time for Christmas. By the end of the weekend, I had closer to 40,000 words and a dead body on my hands. I have murdered my first character.
Well, not murdered exactly. But he’s gone, completely disappeared. He has, as they say, ceased to be. He is an ex-character.
After much debate and soul-searching and a not insignificant piece of feedback from an author I deeply respect, who also happens to be my mentor on this project, I decided it was time for this particular character to fall off his perch.
I spent the better part of the weekend slashing great chunks of narrative from my draft and rewriting other sections – or planning how they would be rewritten, since I ran out of hours. I think I’m satisfied with the results, but I can’t tell just yet as I’m still mourning Gavin’s demise – it’s all too painful at the moment.
It’s an interesting exercise, putting observations once made and words once spoken by Gavin into the mouths of other people. It may be perfectly credible for another character to raise the same point, interact with the same person or reach the same conclusion as he, thus move the plot forward in the desired way; but each of these scenes requires a different voice – different choice of language, tone, degree of subtlety, or lack thereof. For this novice writer, it’s a challenge and it’s a learning.
I relish both, I think. But ask me again in a few weeks.