A few weeks ago I talked about killing off characters, and that earned me this delightful tweet from @rlbelliston:
@Janice_Hardy Haha. I have a writing friend who, every time I get stuck on a scene, tells me to just kill someone off.A funny off-the-cuff statement? Maybe, but there's truth in these words as well. Because sometimes looking at who you can get rid of is the perfect way to fix a scene that's not working.
You don't have to actually kill them, but look at the scene and decide if everyone in it needs to be there. What might happen if:
- One of the players wasn't there?
- Someone left in the middle?
- The protagonist was alone?
- The protagonist was with different people?
- The protagonist was with people who didn't like her?
And if the protagonist in the scene in question happens to be alone anyway, don't let that stop you from getting rid of people. Your protagonist might be thinking about other characters. What if...
- You took those thoughts away?
- You cut the scene that triggers those thoughts?
Why stop with people? Characters rely on all kinds of things to get them through a scene. What else might you take away from them?
- Can they forget something they currently remember?
- Can they lose something they use/need in that scene?
- Can they not discover some bit of information?
Taking things away from your protagonist forces you (and them) to re-evaluate the scene and what's available to solve the scene problem. It might turn out that nothing can be taken away (and that's fine), but you might discover less really is more and send the scene in a new direction.
Do you ever take things away from your protagonist? Are there any scenes you're currently working on that might benefit from losing something in it?