Characters drive the plot; they evolve, they have flaws, they have talents; they excite and disappoint. Sometimes they fumble the ball and other times they are resoundingly heroic. So how do we edit for our characters? Gabriela Pereira in Writers Digest, September 2015 reminds authors that we should know our protagonist(s) as well as ourself and know the answers to these questions: What drives my character? What does she want and what are her roadblocks? What lengths will she go to to succeed?
After many hours with this character, you know her so well you can leave out important events and insights that leave your reader wondering, “So what? I don’t care.” Readers must have a vested interest in the protagonist’s future. If readers are left with a dismally flat personality, no one gives a darn about her story. Have you ever tried to relate your reasons for loving someone to a friend. Without significant feelings and your specifics, your friend says, “How is this person different?” What’s missing from your description? Details, details, details.
This is a writer’s kerfuffle! Read Pereira’s article for an excellent exercise called, “the sandbox.” My best strategy is reading passages aloud. Hearing the words can be edifying and reveal the flaws. That awareness provides a direction, and off I go!