I just pulled the plug on (A), a major character in Gunpowder Tea. I introduced her because I needed more plot and I thought I ought to have another female character. There’s one significant woman character, but I can’t guess how she’s going to sit with readers. So I tried to bring in someone more likeable. It’s the only time I’ve ever tried to create a character based on my expectations of reader expectations.
She brought plot with her, and the plot was fine in itself, but I’ve had to admit that it wasn’t doing anything wonderful for the story, and I wasn’t getting much chemistry between her and the characters who were already there. She brought another character with her, and when they were together alone it worked, but the overall effect was like clashing colours or patterns.
I’ve reinstated a character who was there in very early drafts, though he’s changed. I tried making him a her, but it felt wrong. I know that what feels wrong to me is not necessarily going to feel wrong to readers, but it’s me who has to write it.
As I do yet another rewrite I’ve realised I could bring (A) back, as a badass though less complicated character, in a smaller role. Originally she had a split personality (between badass and gentle young lady) and there were a lot of metaphysical complications involving that. And she never got to shine clearly. She spent a lot of time being confused, and more of an annoyance and a problem to the other characters (and me) than anything else.
If I bring her back, she’ll just be the badass. If she has any conflicts they’ll be ordinary psychological conflicts rather than of (technobabble) origin.
But I need to think carefully about bringing her back. She’d be in conflict with Gwynn, including physical conflict. Which I think is fine if they’re an even match. (She isn’t cut out to be the clownish wannabe. Could she be better than him? Maybe.) But how to end the conflict? He has to live to fight another day. If she were a man I could give her any fate to suit the character and the story. But a female warrior carries more real-world luggage than a male warrior. Whatever her gender means or doesn’t mean in the world of the story, I have to think about how it will play for the reader.
Since (A) has suggested how she could come back into the story, I’m going to give it a think, and this time be very particular about the plot. No trusting that it’ll be all right on the night.