William Faulkner's famous quote, "In writing, you must kill your darlings," is widely interpreted to mean an author has to be willing to cut out the brilliant, wise or lushly descriptive passages that aren't working for the paragraph (or manuscript) in which they appear. But last week, this interpretation broadened for me.
Anyone who remembers visiting my blog during Jen Daiker's Guess That Character Blogfest may remember the girl in the above photo. It's Julie Knotts, the original main character and protagonist of my current WiP. One of my darlings.
I had to let her go. She just wasn't coming to life. As a character-driven author, I've been increasingly frustrated by the disconnect between Julie's character arc and the plot. I couldn't bridge the two together. And after months and months of failed re-starts, I've come to the conclusion that Julie is the problem.
Since I fired her, I've been brainstorming replacement characters. I think I've found one. Her name is Samantha Stiles. She's vibrant, strong, beautiful, successful, and INTERESTING. I like her.
Of course, the entire plot is changing to accommodate this new cast member. But there's new energy in my writing with the project metamorphosis. It almost feels like a new book, which is a good thing. When too much time goes by between when the story idea comes to you and when you finish the draft, you risk losing precious energy-driven momentum. The story becomes lackluster. Getting back that energy is difficult and sometimes impossible.
When I get to know Samantha a little better, I'll post a picture of her. Until then, happy writing and best of luck to you and all your darlings!