Freddie had to go

There was a time when he was important. It was because of his charming deceitful ways that the whole story began. He made life unbearable for my main character, gave her the push she needed to run away and try to change things.

But when it became apparent that there was too much back story and too many love interests in this novel, Freddie had to go. Like any intense relationship, it was hard to make the break but bit by bit I have managed to delete all trace of him.

I had to ask myself the question: ‘Can I live without him?’ And painful as it was, the answer was yes. It’s a well-known mistake to cram too much into your first novel, one that you usually discover after the fact. I fell into this trap on a grand scale and it’s a difficult one to get out of. Difficult but not impossible.

So goodbye Freddie and everything that came with you:
The convoluted back story about the festival he was organising and embezzling money from – out.
The flirting scene in the pub – out.
The scene when they first get physical – out.
His jealous girlfriend’s reaction – out.
The successful launch of the festival – out.
Police raiding the offices – out.
Freddie going awol – out.
Police interviews – out.
The scene in the solicitor’s office – out.
Freddie featuring in other people’s conversations – out.
References to the court case – out.
The visit to Freddie in prison – out.

And finally, today, after my sly attempt to keep Freddie in the background of the story, even though no new reader could figure out what he was doing there, I have removed any last trace of Freddie’s character.

Amazingly it turned out that Freddie and the hefty subplot that went with him were not essential to this novel. In fact this overload of storylines was taking away from the true heart of the novel, which is about family. He may appear in another guise in another story, but for now the mischievous, restless Freddie is out of the picture.

I’m definitely not the first person to have to cut a character from a novel in progress. Sometimes two characters can be rolled into one if they are serving the same purpose or a peripheral character can disappear over the horizon without being missed. Has anyone else had the experience of cutting a major character? Am I right in thinking (and hoping) you never regret what you cut?