I’ve been working with Laura on the second novel in the Drakis series — tentatively titled ‘Citadels of the Lost.’ Occasionally, I’ve felt a little lost myself as there were three characters who had come along for the ride from the previous novel. They were members of Urulani’s crew — sea raiders from the southern coast of Thetis Bay whom Drakis had convinced to take him north across the ocean in order to disprove his destiny.
Well, now we’re journeying through this second book and it’s absolutely fabulous — except for these three characters. Their names are Djono the Giant, Lucrasae and Kendai, the sailing master. Now don’t get me wrong, they are perfectly nice characters — but I had begun to think of them collectively as Rosencrantz and Gildenstern or, worse, Rosenstern and Gildencrantz.
The reason behind my bizarre thoughts concerning these otherwise respectable characters is that while they had some nice things to do and say in the first novel and even though their presence in the second novel makes a certain kind of logic — they had become ‘baggage’ — characters who you drag through the book even though they serve no dramatic or story function, represent no particular necessary viewpoint and are, for the lack of a better phrase, dead weight.
The immediate impulse it so turn dead weight into dead meat: just kill them off and be done with them, but that hardly seems fair. I mean, it isn’t their fault that the plot doesn’t concern them all that much and that the author is trying to shoehorn dialogue into their mouths just to justify their existence.
So, this means a rewrite — going through ALL the chapters to date and figuring out how to expunge them from the tale. Interestingly, the moment I wrote their now exit rather than inclusion near the front of the book … EVERYTHING IMPROVED. The plot got tighter, the motivations got clearer, the dialogue was snappier and everything made more sense. So, now I only have to go through the remaining chapters and, using the same crowbar I used to place them INTO the story, forcibly remove them so that the story is solid throughout, moving and strong.
Goodbye Rosenstern and Gildencrantz — and that third guy — whoever you were. Take comfort that I didn’t kill you outright but let you live an unheralded life off the stage of our story.