Musings: Benching your Darlings.

punch out

When a idea gets canned it always has a second chance for a comeback, don’t lose hope.

I’ve started working on ‘Kingless Country’ in full effect.   One of the things I’ve done is shuffled around the POV chapters.   Kingless Country is Naida’s story.   As such, she’s been bumped to the driver’s seat and Derrek has been sent to the back of the bus.   OK, that might not have been the best choice of words.

However, this is fine.   Sometimes you need to accept shifting roles and let a character breathe.   When I made my first attempts at writing the story, everything was in Derrek’s POV.   He was there every step of the way even when he wasn’t doing anything.

We limit exposure for the same reason novel characters don’t use the bathroom.   No one want to know.   We know they are human and need to do such things, but is it a requirement to spell out every waking moment of their life?   No.

There is nothing more agonizing than slaving away at a chapter and coming to the horrible realization it is pointless.  There’s an easy test to discern if the scene’s fate is the chopping block.   Ask yourself: What is the purpose of this scene.   If your answer starts with:  The reader needs to…  You’re doing it wrong.

The character itself dictates the importance of the scenes.  Each chapter is a voyeuristic peek into their life.  The reader only gets shown the parts where it’s been recorded and you the author has deemed a crucial component of the story.

This isn’t to say you can’t have touching little scenes demonstrating the character’s relations.   It simply means you show a crucial turning point in the story and in that time the characters develop their relationships with each other.   The slowest of slow chapters need a centerpiece demonstrating progression.  One character is trying to accomplish something very specific, and the circumstances surrounding this are interesting.

Back to my original point, Derrek gets two chapters across the sixteen I’ve written of Kingless Country.   I don’t regret it one bit.   It gives the reader the time to form theories about what he’s thinking.  When he comes back in the driver’s seat these theories get confirmed or disproven.

When you keep things close to the character’s motivations it makes for a compelling read.  You need to do what’s best for the story, rather than the pretty little details you want to show off.

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