Monday, June 14, 2010

Kill Your Darlings

Hello All,
It has been too long since my last post.  Now, that school is out and the children are settled in, I actually have some time to myself.  Not as much as I would like, but enough to get some writing in.  Since I'm on the subject, I had a huge awakening at my writer's group last month. 

As many of you know, I have polished the first chapter of my novel until it shines. It stands to reason that all of the group members liked the pacing and thought it gripped them enough to read on.  As I sat there basking in my elation, they dropped the bomb about  the raw draft of chapter two.  Many of the members did not form an attachment to my M.C.  They said she seemed bitter and  lacked emotion. I thought, okay, I can work on this, tweek her here and there and voila! I will have a more loveable character.

However, the critique did not end with my M.C.  Group members went on to comment about a second character in the chapter.  A lawyer with the personality of a used car salesman named Preston drops by Soledad's (my M.C) home with a mysterious package.  Her recently deceased father had instructed the lawyer to deliver it two months after his death.  Preston does not show up anywhere else in the novel.  He is merely a conduit to get the package to Soledad as well as a mechanism to build tension.

A couple of the members of my writer's group suggested I get rid of him if he doesn't have a role in the rest of the book. In fact, one person reminded me of Faulkner's advice to "Kill your darlings."  This means authors may find areas or characters which they are attached to and consequently, are unable to judge them.  The underlying question I have is when should this theory apply?  I really like the lawyer and spent a lot of time developing him.  Although there are other ways to get the package to Soledad, I think Preston adds a bit of humor to the scene.   Do you agree that a character should not be introduced unless he/she will be included somewhere else in the novel?   Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.  In other words, please, let me know what you think.  Until next time, happy writing.