Eliminating characters – an insider’s look at “The Shade Ring Trilogy”
As I gear up to publish the final installment in “The Shade Ring Trilogy,” I’m pleased to report that two characters I deleted from the first book before it was published DID make a comeback in books 2 and 3. I deleted them because there were too many personalities for readers to keep up with as the story began on that expedition to sunken Charleston.
Originally, the graduate students on the excursion in Chapter 1 of “The Shade Ring” included Neave Alvarez, her cousin and friend, Lena, and two other friends – Kwan and Gabe, who were best buddies and roommates. But on the advice of a couple of editors, I wrote Gabe out entirely, rewriting the scenes so that any important dialog was spoken by other characters. I also deleted a member of the construction crew on the Charleston demolition site. Originally, there was Will Galloway, Jaz, Macho Martinez and a Native American character named John. Once again, I decided there were too many characters at the beginning of my novel, so I made John disappear, downsizing the demolition crew.
If you’ve read “Albedo Effect,” you know Kwan’s roommate, Gabe, does appear in the story. He’s not quite the wise-cracking guy I originally envisioned. Kwan became the real joker of the group. Gabe also shows up in book 3. As for John, the other character I deleted, I sorta-kinda brought him back, but as a she, not a he. I wanted an American Indian character but decided to make her a woman, not a man. I also made Annie Roanhorse an activist rather than a construction worker. Talk about artistic license!
Besides downsizing my initial cast of characters, I also took an even more painful step to make “The Shade Ring” more reader-friendly. The original version was about 20,000 words longer, with two additional opening chapters. What happened to those chapters? I lopped them off! Yep. Deleted them. Dumped them into the trash bin. And let me tell you, it hurt me to make the original first two chapters go away. I loved those chapters. But a couple of editors made it clear to me that they slowed down my novel too much and, in this age of short attention spans, I needed to pick up the pace. So, snip, snip, snip and presto bingo – they were gone. Of course, I had to do a significant re-write of what used to be Chapter 3 to make it the new Chapter 1. But I think it was worth it. The story starts where the action starts.
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