Someone posted recently on Facebook: ‘Isn’t it wonderfully satisfying, killing characters off?’
This was in the context of writing crime novels. At least, I hope so, because otherwise the question hints at buried rages and suppressed aggressive urges to delight any Freudian psychoanalyst.
My book isn’t a crime novel, but the comment did make me wonder how my story would fare without some of its characters if I took them out, not in a contract killing fashion, but in an editing fashion. Do I have minor characters in there, doing very little but bulking out the plot, like superfluous foam padding in the shoulders of a jacket or bra, there for show more than anything of value?
Worse, is my main character so tedious/irritating/self-absorbed that even if I don’t kill her off, the readers will wish I had?
Now I’m depressing myself, so, to lighten the mood, let’s play a game. Put your feet up and keep a packet of Bourbons beside you.
I’ve taken the main characters out of some classic books and mused on the resulting plotline. Guess the characters and books. For every one you guess, you may have a Bourbon.
1. In 1930s America, mice and puppies get on with their lives in peace.
2. Voldemort wears a puzzled expression.
3. Boat for sale (unused), suitable for three or more, plus large dog (optional).
4. Sancho Panza finds himself the unexpected star of various adventures.
5. Various corpses get to keep their body parts.
6. Rochester stares moodily into the fire a lot more.
7. Ishmael ends up fishing for skipjack tuna.
8. Instead of being used for nefarious transformational purposes, the salts get sprinkled on someone’s chips.
9. A rye field lies undisturbed.
10. A late 19th century portrait painter, without a cocky young rake to paint, embarks on a still life of some fruit.
11. Women in Whitby find other uses for garlic.
12. Various horses find their own way to Canterbury, un-entertained by lewd stories.
13. Max de Winter’s second wife can wear what she likes at parties without censure.
14. A lion and a wardrobe do what they can between them to create narrative tension.
15. Doctor Watson, bored, doles out remedies for the common cold and knee injuries.
16. A class of 1930s Edinburgh schoolgirls have a supply teacher and do worksheets on semi-colons.
That's the end of the quiz. If you ran out of Bourbons and had to start on another packet, you have done very well indeed. Take a bow. If you can get out of your chair, that is.
|I bought my daughter a calendar which gives a 'drawing' prompt each day. This was her invisible man. |
Sorry the picture's blurred. Let's call that irony.
Fran Hill is a writer and teacher who lives in Warwickshire. You can find out more about her, and check out more of her humour on Fran's blog You can also buy her first book from the blog. It's called 'Being Miss', is a story about a hapless teacher's day, and it will make you feel much better about your own frailties. Why not look at the reviews she has on Amazon?