Slicing, Dicing, and Splicing Characters – A Writer’s Journey

Still of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
IMDB: Still of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

I am at an important, although early, stage of the novel. It is still the hacking and slashing stage. But unfortunately, I am at the hacking and slashing moment where it is not safe for characters. I have out my machete. And for more refined slicing, I also have my samurai sword to do some much needed slicing, dicing, and splicing.

Now is the point where characters are being evaluated. I ask questions like:

  • Does this character add to the story?
  • Did this character saying that
    make sense?
  • Does this character’s actions and/or motivations make sense?
  • Are these two characters filling different roles?

If the answer is no, well, then it might be a time to slice, dice, or splice some characters. For my current novel, I have sliced one minor character so far. Slicing just means that one character was split into two different characters. Doing this makes more sense instead of having one minor character who occasionally acts ‘out of character.’

Although in the past I have completely removed characters from a story, I do not think I have ever diced a character. Dicing would be dividing a character into multiple parts… meaning instead of one minor character, I split that character into three or more.

For my current novel, I recently spliced four characters into “two” characters. This, again, made more sense for the story. Splicing feels really awkward at the beginning, but after a few edits all the rough spots are ironed out. But the first round of splicing can feel like I wrapped up three characters into one with duct tape.

I actually enjoy slicing, dicing, and splicing characters. It makes the story flow, it makes it tighter, and it makes the characters stronger. In addition, it’s a fun, creative challenge.

What about you? Do you enjoy slicing, dicing, and splicing characters?

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