We’re delighted to welcome Katie Christine, author of Impeccable Petunia. Katie joins us today to share her experience of discarding a much-loved character.
A Rabbit Named Trevor: The Story of a Discarded Character – Katie Christine
When I started writing Impeccable Petunia, the first friend for my titular character, Petunia, the chicken, outside of the hen yard was a rabbit named Trevor.
Now I loved Trevor—he was fat, fluffy and did not care that most other animals considered him food. He was to be Petunia’s companion during her time inside the human house and I was very excited to have him in my story.
Trevor, however, did not make it out of the first draft. There were too many logistical problems to solve due to the physical limitations of a rabbit. As much as talking animals require a suspension of disbelief, Trevor pushed that concept to the extreme.
Petunia was experiencing a world outside of her hen flock and she needed someone who could help her see and live within a new paradigm. The more I wrote, the more I realized I was having trouble finding anything for poor Trevor to do. Often he would just sit in a scene until I remembered I’d forgotten about him.
On one particularly frustrating day of writing, I found myself in a war of wills with my very stubborn cat, Frankenstein, who from across the room had decided to try and liberate the window from behind the wooden blind.
I remembered my husband’s encouragement to think about adding a feline character to the story as I stared at Frankie.
Ignoring my verbal reprimands, he knew he’d spent his bad behavior allowance and as I rose to my feet, he shot me one last petulant gaze.
Macy, the resident cat in Petunia’s life, was born.
A cat could easily shift between worlds, indoors and out with nothing more than a cursory explanation. Macy readily entered any scene and I was never at a loss to explain his presence. He became Petunia’s perfect foil, complementing her in every way. Where she was naive, he was worldly and where she was limited, he was agile. Things that upset her, amused him and where he was insensitive, she was astute.
Though difficult at first to cut my dear, fuzzy rabbit, I soon realized it was for the best and Macy took on a life of his own. And while he started from Frankie, who lays beside me sleeping on his back like a snoring walrus as I write this, Macy, as a character has come from many places, people and experiences in my life. He is equal parts impulsive and destructive as he his noble and erudite and he has easily become one of my favorite characters.
Learning when to let go and when to keep tinkering until I get something that flows has easily been one of my most ardent struggles as a writer. Trevor, the rabbit, was my first lesson in the former. Though I was attached to him and his absence left quite a hole in my plans for the future of the story I was writing, letting him go was the right decision and out of that difficulty came a character that I may, if pressed to admit, enjoy even more.
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