Cutting a Character from your Novel

So I’ve recently begun rewriting my first novel, HOPING FOR RAIN. Since I’ve finished my NaNo novel in its entirety, I put that aside for a month or so to work on this. And I’m finding a few things about cutting characters. One, that I hate to do it. Two, that it’s often necessary.

And let me tell you something, writers of the world: most writers cut characters. Even JK Rowling cut characters from her novels. The truth is that sometimes, even if they’re terrific characters, they don’t serve any purpose.

I’m cutting at least one character from HOPING FOR RAIN – her boyfriend, a boy called David. I decided that since her main aim wasn’t to find love (it’s to find happiness) and there were no major plot points circling around him, he needed to be cut.

I didn’t know if it was the right decision at first. Cutting a character? What is this insanity? But as I began to write out the scene summaries of my second draft, I realised I had been right: he was superfluous. Maybe I’d thought that he gave some extra interest to the story; maybe I’d thought that you had to have a love interest. Either way, I was wrong. I cut him.

I didn’t like cutting him. He was a funny character, very charismatic. But if it would enhance my writing, so be it. And that freed me a lot. The thing is, characters are often cut after first drafts – and characters are often added as well.

When you’re feeling iffy about cutting a character, think about what’s best for your story. And then take the plunge.

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