Sunday, May 6, 2012
Killing Characters and Fixing Mistakes
I just killed off a minor character. Then I brought him back. One of my main characters stabbed him. And then he didn't. It occurred to me that the stabbing was a possibility, so I gave it a go for a couple of sentences. It was sudden and completely unexpected, but it wasn't quite right. That, and I didn't really know what to do with it. So I took it out. I turned back time. You can do that, when you're an author. Sometimes, though, it takes a lot more than a couple of sentences for me to realize I've gone the wrong way. Once, I had to excise an entire chapter to fix a mistake. More recently, I had to chop about five chapters from a novel. And, both Evil and Epoch required a three-chapter rewrite near their ends to correct some serious gaffes (that my editors caught, not me). Mistakes happen. Even in writing! Even when you're still in the super-creative, make-it-all-up part of the process. Realizing you've made one is actually a sign that you're doing something right; you know your characters and story well enough to detect when something's wrong. It's a gut thing, for the most part. Trust your gut. Try things out. One way might look right; go for the one that feels right. The one that feels like it's part of the story. That minor character of mine gets to live. It wasn't his time to go. Not yet. I killed off a major character instead. I'm a whole chapter past that point now, and still going. It works. The story is happy. So am I.