That’s the problem with craft books. Yeah, I’m going to blame it on the people trying to help me. I start reading their books, and blammo, I find something else that needs fixin’. This time, I’m going through the pre-planning plot structure and Miss 10 K (Rachel Aaron. I’m very impressed by her, actually) says, and I paraphrase, “consider whether a character is necessary for the story. If you remove a character, will the outcome be the same? Different? Are they necessary?”
STOP READING CRAFT BOOKS, you say. As if your screen can hear you. Harrumph. But the point is that what’s read can’t be unread, although I can certainly forget most of the important things by the next time I’m writing, which might be in fifteen minutes. In this case, I got to thinking, like you do. What are my characters? I have 9 marines, 3 navy guys, 4 cops, and a bunch of other people they run into. And sometimes herding the 12 people around from scene to scene is unwieldy.
The characters necessary for the story are the fireteam, which is only four of the marines. Those other guys… I might just do some revisions where they don’t make it past the crash. But that’s a substantial re-write, and all the subsequent scenes would need a lot of editing, and we’re lookin’ at hours of time. If I’m typing 1500 words per hour, that’s like 4500 words I won’t be typing while I dinker around with removing 3-5 characters with a little writer scalpel.
However, if you’re reading this magnificent thing in the future, and you notice guys dying off at about word 31900…
Let’s just say stuff happens. You gotta get rid of all these extras clogging the scenes, demanding arcs, demanding lines, cracking wisely, and hogging the limelight.
Do I cut, or run? Yes, yes, I hear you. Write the new stuff. Don’t cut anyone if you don’t have to. Enough with the revisions, already, get to work.