Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From each cut, a lesson

Gamnock struggles against his sticky bonds. "Lift it up! What are you waiting for?"

"I had one more thing I wanted to say before I get to you."

He slams his head onto the desktop and lets out a frustrated growl. "You've got to be kidding."

"Don't hurt yourself. Sheesh." I pull one strip of tape off. It's not nearly enough to give him room to escape, but seems to ease his frustration a little.

As dear Botanist pointed out in a comment on a previous post, not all is lost with my host of discarded characters. With each one I learned something new. Something about what not to do, more often that not, but it's part of that whole learning from mistakes thing, right?

Often I found that the characters I cut, their scenes and back story, had a part in shaping the MCs, fleshing them out, making them real. But upon learning to wield my editing knife, I discovered that those things I cut were for me, to learn about my characters, or to expand my world building, which needs to happen, but not all of it needs to be on the page.

For example... Gamnock.


"I know, sorry about the long wait." (I'm not really all that sorry. I enjoy aggravating my characters.)

Gamnock was meant to be Mr. MCs man. His one trusted, devoted, what-can-I-do-for-you guy. Mr. MC and Ms. MC weren't getting along. Mr. MC needed someone to talk to.

But he already had someone. An established character.

Mr. MC needed a friend.

He already had two of those, both established characters.

Xander needed a mentor.

Xander got cut.

Mr. MC needed someone he could trust. Explicitly.

Great! Except that side plot got cut back because that whole not getting along plotline was taking way too darn long. Not having Gamnock there brought more tension and less passive MC mulling.

Gamnock showed me that Mr. MC had grown, he'd gained the loyalty of men willing to listen to him over Ms. MC. He was ready to make a stand for his independance. He was ready to charge forward with what must be done. (Is it scary that I'm picturing a scene montage in my head complete with a pulse-stiring soundtrack?)

Montage aside, none of that needed to happen in the book. It could be implied. Which brings me to my next point: anvils.

"Hold your anvils. Can you let me go now?"

I pull away the tape, trying not to snicker as he gasps when I yank the tape from his bare skin.

"Thank you, Gamnock, for being so patient. The Pirate Guild sent over this crate as a consolation prize for getting cut from not one, but two books."

"I knew those guys wouldn't forget me." He wipes the tape residue from his hands and neck and grins. "I don't suppose you have the opening code?"

"Sorry, no. You'll have to find a pry bar." I try to remember what I cut from the Pirate Guild that they might have sent to Gamnock.

He rubs his hands together and runs off.

I guess we'll both just have to wait to find out.


  1. Well, Jean, I think I had a different angle in mind in my earlier comment, so I'm glad you shared this perspective. I hadn't thought about it like that before, how discarded characters can leave their imprint on your remaining characters, but I enjoy learning of new ways to view the writing process.

    Hmm...unknown gifts from the Pirate Guild...nothing too destructive I hope...

  2. Perhaps a more accurate merging of angles: Some long, rambling scenes are better left implied or with a single line of reference to make the situation or world seem bigger or the characters deeper outside of the main focus instead of killing the pace.

    Gamnock wraps up in the next post. :)

  3. Hmmmmmm...interesting, Gypsy! You do indeed learn much from cut characters.
    (I hope they didn't give Gamnock a nail bomb...or a Kukri knife :O)
    Oh, and by the way, Gypsy! I tagged you. (I sincerely hope you haven't been tagged yet) Check my blog for further details.

  4. I learned the most about one of my characters from a pink tuxedo wearing doorman. I cut him because he didn't really add anything to the story, but I discovered how the MC treated "servants".


Join the conversation. It gets lonely in here without you.