Just today I was doing an author presentation in Surrey, BC, telling the kids all about my process. I had some fantastic sessions and met some really creative kids. It was the kind of day that leaves me feeling like I’m flying high, like a Peryton.
One girl (I think she must have been in Grade 4) asked me one of the best questions I’ve had in quite a while. She asked, “Have you ever had to delete a character, and how did that make you feel?” Wow! You can pretty much tell by that question that she is a writer.
I went on to tell her that I have indeed had to “delete” characters, and that is always a sad funeral to see them go. First, I put all this work into creating the character and even write scenes or whole chapters with them—only to then realize that they are superfluous to the plot, or that they are too similar to another character, and that they can be dropped all together.
However, there are those lucky times when I can resurrect a character. That was the case with Captain Raggart Rinkle who appeared in The Shard from Greeve. I originally wrote him into several scenes of The Door to Unger (though back then, his name was Captain Hatch). Well, sure enough, he just didn’t play an important enough role in the story, so I ditched him. When it came time to work on The Shard from Greeve, I realized I needed him again, so I dusted him off and reimagined him. Of course, by that time I was working with my eleven-year-old helper, Sarang, who was pre-reading my book and letting me know about all the terrible parts that needed fixing.
In particular, she helped me pick the name of Captain Raggart Rinkle (according to her, my suggestions “sucked”). So I showed her a sketch of the character. And the rest was history!
Incidentally, I also was able to resurrect another character, with a far more illustrious history than Captain Rinkle, but that’s a story for another time . . . you’ll have to remind me to tell you it sometime.