I just erased two people from existence in my latest book.
I did it with great aplomb. Ambivalence even. Didn't shed a tear. Didn't care.
They didn't help my story. They didn't move it along. They didn't contribute. They were in the way.
So I took them out.
I didn't kill them in the story, or anything like that. I didn't hatch a scheme or build a plot to exterminate them. I didn't use Ricin, Lilly of the Valley, a wheelchair bomb, or a robot gun mounted in my trunk.
I just went back to chapter three where their genesis was...and rewrote chapter three. And four. And five. Without them.
Where did they go?
Don't know and don't care.
Why did I even put them in there in the first place? I'll be honest -- I put them in there because I thought I needed them. Pack of friends going on an adventure, stuff like that. Rowling did it. Riordan did it. Heck, Lloyd Alexander did it. Tolkien did it the best.
So I thought I needed to. Nah. Mine didn't breathe yet. They didn't bring grins like Ron, giggles like Gurgi, or guffaws like Samwise. They didn't bring anything.
Part of my mind told me to wait -- things would get better with poor Lawrence and Holly. They didn't get a chance to develop yet. They didn't have room to run in Chapters 3-5. True, Part of My Mind, true. But if I didn't like them in three chapters, my audience sure wouldn't. And if my audience doesn't, it becomes a very simple reason to put the book down. And if the book gets put down, I'm screwed. If that happens, there's no talking my way out of it. Hank and Skylar don't believe my ramblings and pick the book back up and give me another chance.
You have to make tough choices when writing for the benefit of the arc. For the sake of the story. "Kill your darlings" indeed. Get rid of ancillary crud that doesn't move the tale forward. Make the decision and do it. Do it quickly, before there's time to waver.
Be brutal. Like me, I guess.
Because apparently after this week...
I am the danger. And I am the one who knocks.
Happy New Year! :)