When Bad Characters happen to Good Stories


I am a merciless writer, from whom all bad story elements will find no refuge!

Okay, so almost a hundred thousand words into writing the rough draft of my latest fantasy novel, I decided that I absolutely despised my main character’s deceased wife. I hated her name, I hated the effect that she had on my main character, I hated the way she seemed to sneak in and undermine almost everything that I was trying to accomplish. She added way to much drama for my taste, and made everything far more serious than it really needed to be, and she wasn’t even alive. She had gone from being more than just background story for my main character. She had become anathema incarnate, destroying budding relationships, sabotaging gainful character development, and being a general pain in my derriere.

The twitch had to go.

So, I backtracked one hundred thousand words into the past, started over at page one and began the long and arduous journey of eradicating this hated person from my story. It’s going to be a lot of work. She had wormed herself so far into my story that her presence tainted almost every chapter. Did I mention that she wasn’t even a living character?

So far, I’ve completely re-written the first two chapters, and what I’ve found is that in re-writing, my story has become much more solid, believable, and (I.M.O.) likeable. The underlying pall of an inescapable past has been extinguished by the flames of my vengeful wrath! This, my friends, is the true joy of re-writing: striking down the inane and abhorrent bad elements with the shining light of the delete key. May fascinating and magnificent plot twists take their place!

I think I can get back to liking my own story again.

About tamarahickman

I am a self-published paranormal and fantasy fiction writer, and math teacher. I have a full house (husband, kids, guinea pig), a "real" job, and a fantastic hobby that makes me happy and keeps me feeling fresh. I have an addiction to typeface smilies. ^_^

2 responses »

  1. This made me grin and nod way more than I should for sitting alone in front of a computer. In the middle of my second fantasy manuscript I started getting very annoyed with a character. My initial reaction was to just kill him. Kill him good and dead and never look back. I shared my feelings with a friend of mine and these are the responses I received:

    “Do you want the writer pal or the writer dom reply to this? Write pal chuckles gleefully and nods. Such fun, isn’t it? Writer dom sez “that’s no way to fix a plot problem.”

    “Unlike real life, characters have to die at dramatic climaxes. They can’t die on an ordinary day at an ordinary time, and their death has to fling [expletive deleted] into the fan for the other characters.”

    She was right, of course. Needless to say, his death was annexed to the Realm of Permanent Deletion and I was forced to work backward, finding out why he annoyed me so much and fixing it. He’s much more tolerable now and I take my grief out on him as if he were my own personal Job, so he serves a purpose much more valuable alive than dead.


    • Fantastic, and Good Job, Sir!
      I’m finding as I go along that deleting her has left room for my other characters to blossom and grow like the weeds they should be. I don’t think I could ever add her back into the story, unless I added some dreaded, hellish alternate fourth demention…

      …so I guess the true connundrum is this… If I hate her so much, but she comes from my mind, and my mind is a part of me, then do I therefore hate a part of myself? o_O


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