Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

Blog / The Craft of Writing

The writing process can be weird

Through a miscommunication with the intelligent part of my brain, I seem to have the same important secondary character, Keziah, appearing in two scenes that are happening simultaneously.


The way this happened is, see, I thought there was going to be another chapter in between these two scenes. So there would be book-time to get the character from one scene to the other. But now I think, no. I think now those two scenes are happening simultaneously. And magic is all very well, but nobody gets to be in two places at the same time, because we sure don’t have THAT kind of magic in this universe. So, FINE. Now I have to decide in which scene the character can be most easily replaced by a different character.

And by “most easily” I REALLY mean “most effectively” because easiness is not actually the point. Quality of the story is the point. Though luckily I think the best chapter in which to replace this character is also the easier one to do it in.

Which character shall I sub in to replace Keziah? I have about three choices, assuming I use a continuing character from the first book, which I definitely will because there are enough secondary characters in the BLACK DOG world already, let me tell you. I’m thinking Ethan. Probably. Maybe.

Also, I think this would be a good time to gently remove another secondary character from the back half of chapter two and also from chapter three. I just don’t think that guy is going to have anything to do in the rest of the story, so I think I better leave him behind. Which is disappointing. I like that character! And I will lose a great line of dialogue! I think maybe I will save the version where he sticks around in case I suddenly think of an important role he could play later on.

Removing characters that seem promising but don’t play an important role: this is a thing. I always seem to be introducing neat characters with a vague feeling that I will do something with them, and then, no. And then of course sometimes you can leave them alone, but sometimes you need to get rid of them entirely and replace them with something like “the guard” or “the waitress” or whatever — some unnamed role. The FIND command is super, super useful for making sure later on that I have removed those characters completely.

Okay, so, the project for today is defined.

I’m thinking that I will not get any more pages written as such this weekend. But this kind of sudden important revision counts as progress, and hey, whatever, I am totally in fine shape as far as the deadline goes — I mean, I expect to beat the deadline by about six months — so that’s no problem.

If I get this whole revision done today, I think I will reward myself by reading Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER trilogy tomorrow.

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