Cut a Character?

Heart on the Written PageI’m just curious…
I’ve been advised to cut a character from my novel. Someone I love and the story revolves around. Should I? How do you feel when you hear news like this? “Kill off your darlings,” Faulkner said.
And I say, “But, William…it’s so hard! And it changes the story line. Should you or shouldn’t you? Thoughts? Has anyone had to cut a beloved character and plot line from your story, novel, etc?
How do you do it and still maintain your voice and the integrity of your work? I’m so torn!


6 responses to “Cut a Character?

  1. Excellent question! In the spirit of answering a question with another (sorry!) these might be some things to think about:

    – do you respect the views of the person who’s advising you to do this? Do they bring knowledge/experience that means their perspective is valuable?
    – what reason have they offered for cutting the character? Is it something you see the point of or not?
    – is this the only person who has suggested this? You might want to take some soundings from other readers and see how they react.
    – is this character *really* integral to your story? Does cutting him/her change it so fundamentally that it’s no longer the story you want to tell? If it means losing your story, I’d keep your character!

    One other thing: I was at a writing course today and an agent said that they’d worked with the author of a crime thriller to change the ending from one where the protagonist hadn’t committed the crime to one where he had! That has to be about as fundamental a change as it’s possible to make – but the book has apparently since sold to a publisher and is doing well. Key point, though, was that the author was – allegedly -happy with the change. If you really don’t think the suggestion is something you can live with, you have the absolute right to jettison it – you’re the author!


    • Excellent points…and much food for thought. I’m contemplating my answers and thinking carefully about the character and his role in the book. The whole ending and wrap up of the novel revolves around something this character does and his relationship with the two main characters of the story. I think I’ll take your suggestion and have a few other readers take a look at it to see what they think.
      Great idea. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before! And, seriously, I’m with you…I can’t imagine making the change that writer did for the crime thriller. I don’t know how they did it without having to re-write the entire book!


  2. If you feel that the character is essential to the story, than you should find a way to put them in it. I would therefore suggest, using the same approach that you would to convince a reader about something you believe in as you would an article. This will help you to perhaps develop the character more into the story you have or a side story. Only you will know for sure. As the author, you should never compromise your vision.


  3. Pingback: somedayi » “Cut a Character?” from The Restless Raconteur·

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