• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

Letting Go

http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/andrew-mitchell-525x... 525w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/andrew-mitchell-600x... 600w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/andrew-mitchell.jpg 640w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" />http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/andrew-mitchell-525x... 525w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/andrew-mitchell-600x... 600w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/andrew-mitchell.jpg 640w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />Flickr Creative Commons: Andrew Mitchell
It may be time to kill one of your characters. I don’t mean giving them a sudden heart attack or a misstep in front of a bus. I mean if you’re stuck, really stuck, on a scene or plot point and have been for a while, it may be that one of your characters just doesn’t belong in this book, and needs to be written out.
Maybe you’re thinking, but I love him/her. That’s what I thought a few years ago, when I wrote a beloved youngest child out of my second novel (and my protagonist’s life). Or maybe you’re thinking, Thank God. I really have no idea who this character is anyway, which is what I thought last week when I wrote my protagonist’s current husband out of my novel. Or maybe you’re thinking, Hmm. How do I know? which is what I think several times a day when I’m in the early stages of a book.
“Killing your darlings” doesn’t always mean killing beloved sentences and paragraphs, or doing away with brilliant plot twists that go off-track. Sometimes, it means letting go of a character you’ve thought about and written about and crafted for months. I have done this with every novel, and in every case it’s made the book better—tighter, more focused, richer. But how do you know if and when a character has to go?
When writing dialogue for that character feels like a chore. I don’t know about you, but for me, writing dialogue flows pretty freely. When I write dialogue I often feel as though I’m transcribing the words to a conversation I’m witnessing—only the conversation is taking place in my head. One character wouldn’t be caught dead swearing; another can barely get through three sentences without tossing in a swear word. One character talks in short, staccato rhythm; another tends to over-explain. One character interrupts often; another is fond of long silences between statements. I know when I get stuck writing dialogue, it’s because I can’t hear a character’s voice distinctly, and if I can’t do that, there’s a problem.
When your story still works even if that character isn’t in it. Look at your outline or—if you’re a pantser like me—look at wherever your plot has brought you thus far. Do all your main characters play an important role in the story? How would the story be different if you cut out that character? How would your protagonist be different if that person wasn’t in his/her life? If the answer is “not much,” try writing through a chapter or two without that character. Cutting extraneous characters forces you to focus more intensely on the characters you do have in the story, to make each one of them richly alive. The characters surrounding your protagonist are there to reveal who your protagonist is (both to the reader and to herself), to support, antagonize, love, hate, push, pull, follow, and otherwise interact with your protagonist in the same ways the important people in your life interact with you. But each and every one of them still deserves to be a fully fleshed out individual.
If you can’t feel at least some of what he/she is feeling. I’m a middle-aged woman. But I’ve written from the point of view of an 80-year-old woman, a 10-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl, a 39-year-old woman, etc. But even if I can’t relate to a character’s age, occupation, gender, looks, or personality, I can relate to feeling grief-stricken, or anxious, or over-joyed, or terrified. I’ve never been an 80-year-old botanist and world explorer, but I created one in my second novel that’s one of the most memorable and believable characters I’ve ever written. I knew that character because I know what it’s like to feel impatient with people who don’t say what they mean, or to love someone fiercely and be furious with them at the same time. If you can’t imagine what your character is thinking and feeling in a scene, you may want to rethink your character. It doesn’t even matter if your character is human. In Lauren Groff’s novel The Monsters of Templeton, she writes about a Loch Ness-like monster that lives in a lake in upstate New York. In the final chapter, she writes from the monster’s point of view, whenever it finds someone who has drowned in the lake: “and how the monster loves them, those pretty unmoving people, takes them and strokes their hair like moss and holds their smoothness to its chest…” I like that monster. I know that monster; I’ve felt that protective urge toward vulnerable creatures, too.
Do you know all your characters? Do they all belong in your book?

Wish you could buy this author a cup of joe?

Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can!

About Kathleen McClearyKathleen McCleary is the author of three novels—House and Home, A Simple Thing, and Leaving Haven—and has worked as a bookseller, bartender, and barista (all great jobs for gathering material for fiction). A Simple Thing (HarperCollins 2012) was nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards. She was a journalist for many years before turning to fiction, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and USA Weekend, as well as HGTV.com, where she was a regular columnist. She taught writing as an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and teaches creative writing to kids ages 8-18 as an instructor with Writopia Labs, a non-profit. She also offers college essay coaching (http://thenobleapp.com), because she believes that life is stressful enough and telling stories of any kind should be exciting and fun. When she's not writing or coaching writing, she looks for any excuse to get out into the woods or mountains or onto a lake. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two daughters and Jinx the cat.Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

"Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind."
Catherine Drinker Bowen

Random picks

  • The Litkicks Mystery Spot #3 is: Steventon, Hampshire, England, the town that gave Jane Austen to the world. This brilliant comic novelist was very much a product of her village, and of her large, loving family. Her father was a pastor and a popular figure in town, and he along with several of her older siblings, cousins and neighbors had literary connections in nearby Oxford and London that helped to make her unlikely career possible. When Jane was 21 years old, her father sent an early version of Pride and Prejudice to a London publisher on her behalf (it was rejected, but his belief in...
  • Frontdesk SEO Center for Media Research – According to preliminary research from Webvisible and Nielsen, even if almost 63% of prospects and company owners go to the internet to start with to get ideas about area merchants and 82% choose SERPs to do so, just 44% of businesses use a web site and about half spend much less than 10% of their own marketing and advertising spend on the net. The study detects an accelerating craze toward multimedia meant for growing local search rankings. Having said that, the survey finds massive problem between how business owners act as consumers vs...
  • (Carolyn Cassady, a major figure from the earliest days of the Beat Generation and a valuable spokesperson for the feminine side of Beat culture, has died at the age of 90. Carolyn was married to Neal Cassady and was also beloved by Jack Kerouac, who wrote her into both 'On The Road' and 'Big Sur'. She published her memoir twice, first as 'Heartbeat' (which was made into a movie starring Sissy Spacek) and then (with greater perspective) as 'Off the Road...
  • How do we know what we think we know? Journalists use both primary and secondary sources to provide and verify information when researching an article.
  • www.leadinglight.org.uk Leading Light is a series of one day events that will help boost self esteem, promote confidence and overcome shyness and anxiety. http Many people experience different forms of anxiety in social situations, from fears of public speaking to dread of meeting new people, job interviews, dating, speaking on the phone, meetings at work, or worrying about showing physical signs of nervousness. In fact, around 13 people in 100 feel socially anxious and don’t know that it’s highly treatable. If this is inhibiting you in your own life, you’re not alone and...

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

Fast fact about writing

Writing is a distinctly human activity.