Character: Meet the “Delete” Key

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.

Captain Rinkle SketchOne 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.

Captain Rinkle name suggestions.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.

Captain Rinkle

2 thoughts on “Character: Meet the “Delete” Key

  1. Hey Lee.

    I’ve got to let you know…for some reason…how blessed you are to be creative enough to do what you do. I remember all the drawings you used to do as a kid and I was always impressed then. Now Its just at a whole new level!

    I just started reading Kendra to my kids…they love her!

    Keep it up!! Congrats on being an uncle too!!! (Not that you had anything to do with it…but its a fun and important job!)

    (o: Aaron

  2. While I have never really deleted characters I have written things that I have enjoyed but then realised they do not fit what I am trying to do with that particular piece of writing. And in some cases it is sad when a nice piece of text gets scribbled out. But some times they do come back in other forms and it is pretty great to return to one of those scribbles and turn it into something bigger and better.

    Nice post.

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