In this case, I'm not talking about the writing itself. I'm talking about characters. In the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Mr. Martin kills off one of his main characters in the very first book, A Game of Thrones. Since I saw the HBO series first, I wasn't as shocked when Lord Eddard Stark gets his head lopped off in front of his own children.
I'm told it takes a lot for a writer to delete a scene they love. I don't really have that problem, because I never really fall in love with any of my scenes (I just don't have that high of an opinion of my writing). I might have a line I think is funny that I don't want to get rid of, so I'll try to find room for it somewhere else, but if an editor or agent tells me something needs to go, it's gone. But characters? That's a whole other bucket of coleslaw, my friends. My characters I love. I wouldn't have created them if I didn't. And to spend so much time developing them (literally around 2,000 pages by this point in the series) only to stick a sword through their heart or have their throat slit, is simply unfathomable to me. Bad guys are a different story, of course. But we're not talking about bad guys. We're talking about good guys, people the reader has come to care about, even if their chapters are a little boring. I don't know how Martin does it. I give him props for being so brave, but at the same time, as a reader I'm kind of miffed. With four more books in the series, I'm left wondering if ANY of the characters will be alive at the end.
As I work through what I hope is my final round of revisions on my WIP, I've had to get rid of a couple of characters in order to condense the story. They were minor characters, but even still, it has been difficult. Characters have a way of taking on a life of their own. Once created, they do things even you didn't see coming. In some ways, getting rid of a character is like killing them off. We'll never know where their story might have gone if things had worked out differently. For now, I just have to mourn their loss and move on. Besides, you never know when they might pop up again in the future.
So what about you? Have you had to kill any of your darlings yet? Please share in the comments!