There’s another person floating around in my psyche that I want to tell you about. Her name is Edwina. Edwina is my inner editor, and someone I need to listen to. She asks pertinent questions to improve my writing. She is nothing like my worthless inner critic Lucille, who I wrote about earlier this month.
Edwina helps me look at my characters, plotlines and dialogue from a new perspective. She helps me get some distance from my writing, and examine whether or not everything I’ve written is necessary.
For instance, I had a character in a short story that I loved. She was a favorite of mine, and I spend a lot of time describing her past, where she worked and what she looked like. Finally, though, I had to cut her out after Edwina began asking too many questions.
Edwina: Is she necessary?
Me: I believe she is.
Me: Because she shows a contrast between love interests.
Edwina: What does she do to move the plot forward?
Me: Again, the contrast thing, and I love the description of her workplace.
Edwina: If you didn’t have that contrast and workplace description, what would that do to the story?
Me: I dunno.
Edwina: Why is her existence necessary to the story?
Me: Because I want her to be. I really like her, she reminds me of someone I went to school with, who played an essential role in my social development, so I want to honor her.
Edwina: If you want to honor her, why put her in a story where she is second banana?
Me: Because I like her, that contrast thing and workplace description.
Edwina: If you like her so much, why don’t you marry her? (My inner editor can be a little childish at times.)
Me: Because I’m already married. And if there were an episode of Sister Wives, my argument wouldn’t hold water, but it’s not, so my argument stands! So there! (I can be a little childish right back.)
OK, so as you can see, the dialogue between Edwina and me can be frustrating and silly. But in the end, I realize my inner editor asks me pertinent questions that I can’t ignore. Yours probably does the same thing. You must listen closely to hear what he or she says.
I removed my character from this story without affecting the plot at all, and now I realize I can put her in another story where she will be top banana. (I swear that this is the only time I have ever referred to characters as bananas, and I don’t know why, nor do I know where that phrase comes from!)
Now I have a free, likeable character floating around in my head, and I need to put her in a story where she will have the proper honor and placement. And she will probably live happily ever after, wherever that may be. Unless, of course, she dies a tragic death. Don’t tell her I said that. I don’t want her to worry. But either way, I’ll let you know where she ends up!