So, I've been working on the end of The Thief Book. I've tapped out several scenes. Some are basically old scenes just retouched to fit the new details, others are accomplishing the same objectives as old scenes but are not the some, and one or two are entirely new scenes to blend it all together to fit the new ending.
But, the other day, when I flipped through my old draft to recapture mentally the objective of that scene, I noticed something. The two characters in the scene were Prince Leo (Love Interest Guy/Chief of Police) and Prince Drake (Heir to the kingdom/Leo's elder brother). That's when it hit me, Drake was redundant. See, Leo already has a little brother, Fisk, who is philosophical and special, and who had already been introduced into the story. And, quite frankly, they were filling the same role: sounding board for Leo's ideas/make Leo smarter than he is, because sometimes he's stupid and set in his ways.
Okay, in my mind, Drake and Fisk were not the same guy. Drake is a traditionalist, so he doesn't understand Charlotte (MC girl) either, but he's also highly pragmatic, which sometimes goes against Leo's insistence on obeying the rules no matter the cost. Fisk is philosophical, which makes him more likely to understand Charlotte's perspective, and he's more likely to think Leo's strict adherence to the rules is a bit cracked. So, they both counter Leo in a way I like.
But, they're both countering Leo. They're both achieving the same objective. Which means I don't need both of them. And, since I've already introduce Fisk, and I enjoy his moral flexibility (if I'm not a fan of his name), I'm keeping him.
Sad for Drake.
Okay, I've snipped characters from stories before, from this story in fact. However, this time feels like the first time, to me. Probably because this is the first time I cut a character who played a large part and who I'd actually envisaged in the tale and intentionally wrote in. I'll miss Drake. He was a nice bloke, in his way. Unfortunately, I'm playing Master of the Universe, and I have to be brutal.
This is going to sound a little cold, but characters in books must serve a function. And, it should be a unique function, otherwise they're not just taking up space without adding anything to what's going on.
Now I'm going to draw a comparison to Harry Potter, because I really like Harry Potter, and I've discovered it's an almost universal point of comparison and understanding. Hermione and Ron are both Best Friend characters. However, they don't fulfill the same function, even in that role. Hermione is the smart one who gives Harry wise advice and information that he wouldn't otherwise have but really needs. Ron provides camaraderie, support/back-up, and the male perspective on all issues. And they both, at one point or another (and often at the same time), provide conflict and drama. They fulfill different functions, so they both belong in the text.
Do you guys have much experience cutting characters? How did it make you feel? Have you ever run across characters that you found redundant? How did that make you feel?