I learned an important lesson the other day. Unimportant characters equals lots of unneeded words.
During live read edits for Under the Darkened Moon, I felt as though one character, introduced for just one scene, was unnecessary. Sure, he served a purpose. Sure he furthered the plot. Sure he got my main character from point A to point B.
But what made him feel unnecessary was the fact that there were three other, and much more necessary, bit characters were also being added at this same time. I thought, why not use one of those characters to do what this unnecessary character does?
After all, all the dialogue that this character spoke could easily be spoken by someone else. Every bit of information he brought to the table could be reworked to come from another character.
So, in pre-FINAL editing for Under the Darkened Moon I rewrote a huge swath of the chapter. It was a wrestling match of epic proportion, I will not lie. But in the end, “unnecessary character” is now R.I.P. and the story flows just as well. Every bit of information that needed to be given is now given by another character.
Just by dropping this one, unnecessary character from the story, and all the descriptions, etc. that went with him, trimmed the chapter by a whopping 15%. That’s nearly 800 words!
That’s how fat gets trimmed.