Thursday, March 6, 2008

Paper Cuts Can Kill

I had too many characters in my new novel. I wrote each name (other than the protagonist) on a separate piece of paper and then tossed the thirteen pieces of paper into a hat to let fate decide who was to die. I pulled out a name. Mary B. No not Mary. I can't kill Mary. She's the protags new love interest and the romance angle to the story.

Doh! Mary was perfect to kill off. That would really throw off the reader.

Next. How? Gun, knife, poison, poison dart, strangulation, car accident, electrocution, paper cut infection, blunt trauma, hanging, disembowelment, run over by a train. That seemed be enough.

Next. Where? And so it went with my own personal game of Clue.

Tell me. How do you decide which right-angle turns you want to throw at the reader?

3 comments:

paul lamb said...

Someone once counted that there are 400 characters in Don Quixote. Are you sure you have to get rid of one of yours?

Rick Bylina said...

Yeah, I think so. I have a habit of ultimately having too many characters, and I think that sometimes gets in the way of the plot.

If you count waiters, busboys, the cop standing around, I had 113 identifiable characters in my last novel, but only seven major characters. Good or bad. I don't know. Well, I guess I do. The book hasn't sold.

FARfetched said...

The real-life soap opera that is Tales from FAR Manor is very much like a TV version: there's a core of primary characters, and a cast of secondary characters come and go — and the ones who are gone even make brief appearances on occasion.

Listen to your story… if a character has served his/her purpose, throw her under a bus or on a bus to California. The latter is more flexible, because she can come back later if needed. You've already identified the core players, you just have to figure out how to deal with the supporting cast.