I’m going to tell you a secret about THE FIRST VICTIM (which will be released in three weeks, not that I’m counting down or anything, lol).
Emily Wright, the plucky heroine, has always been front and center of the story, but her love interest, Bailey O’Neil wasn’t a major player in my early drafts of the novel.
NOW I can’t imagine the book without my hero Bailey in his major role, but in the early drafts, I really thought I was writing a buddy novel. I created two FBI agents, Chase Morgan and Sebastian Black, who bickered and busted bad guys.
They’re great guys and I love them so much that I still hope to give them a book of their own one day, but for this book, they’re supporting characters.
Are you familiar with the saying “kill your darlings” (which I think has been attributed to Faulkner, but don’t quote me on that)? Basically it means to get rid of what you, the author, are particularly proud of, or find to be cute or witty, because it’s probably just self-indulgent drivel. Okay, maybe “self-indulgent drivel” might be a bit harsh, but chances are that your darling lines, or scenes, or characters, are not serving your story well.
Don’t get me wrong, I practically burst into tears when my editor asked me to tone down the importance of Chase and Sebastian, but after a few days of stewing about it, I realized she was right. It’s difficult to whittle away at characters you’ve invested so much in, but ultimately the story became stronger because of the cuts I made.
I didn’t “kill” Chase and Sebastian completely. They serve an important purpose in the story…just not one as important as I’d originally planned. Plus, by reducing their role, I had the opportunity to flesh out Bailey’s part even more.
I thought it might be fun treat to share a “darling” scene that was completely eliminated from THE FIRST VICTIM, so I’ve posted it over on my blog.
Speaking of treats, Misty Evans will be here on Friday telling us about THE SECRET INGREDIENT a culinary romantic mystery!
If you’re a reader, have you ever encountered secondary characters that have taken over a story?
If you’re a writer, how do YOU feel about killing your darlings?