Thursday, June 11, 2009
Just so no one starts scratching their heads saying they've never heard of such a fellow, let me assure you that you never will.
He was dead weight, just another confusing name at a dinner-party, a pompous, snuff-addicted ass who really served no purpose in EVANGELINE (my YA paranormal currently in revision). He only had one scene. His family will never miss him, nor will the book reading public. So why do I feel a pang of regret for striking his name, his dialogue, his very existence from my novel? He is the first named character I have ever deleted like this, which may have something to do with the way I am feeling.
I'm feeling a strange sympathy for fictional author Karen Eiffel from the movie Stranger than Fiction when she discovers her character Harold Crick, who she's just figured out how to kill, is a real man. Now, killing off characters is not hard for me. I've killed off characters, main characters, mind you, whose deaths affected other characters profoundly. Whose deaths were necessary to the story.
I understand that eliminating the chaff (and old man Pomander was certainly chaff) is also necessary to the story. What I don't understand is why he's been haunting me. I didn't even like the old codger, and he was a bit of a misogynist. I should be happy that I've slimmed down my manuscript, while, simultaneously, adding to the characterization of the other members of the dinner-party who DO return to the story.
Instead I keep thinking, did he actually have a family? Or maybe old Pomander played for the other team? Maybe his snuff-addiction began in his stint in the military. No, he was way too much of a coward to fight in the infantry. There are a hundred lives, histories, that might have been for Porthos. I'll never know him properly, and there probably won't be a reason to use him again. Because he's just a name floating out there in the collective consciousness, a man without a purpose, without a motive and without motivation, he isn't a character any longer. But I called him into being. I feel responsible for him, and for taking care of him now that he's outlived his usefulness.
Here's hoping that this post will send poor Porthos to wherever he belongs. Is there a heaven (or hell?) for characters stricken with the horrid and always fatal backspace-fluenza?
Anyone else plagued by fictional ghosts of their on making? Characters you killed or eliminated?