Ideas on Characters:
All stories have to have characters, human or not, or there can be no story as dialogue and action have to come from someone's viewpoint. Many books have had animals as characters, like the story of Bambi (not the 1942 movie versions, but the original 1928 translation of the Austrian version written by Felix Salten), or the story of Black Beauty. And, of course, many fantasy and science fiction novels have non-human, human-like characters.
But where do my characters come from? I'd have to say my imagination, although I will admit my mind sometimes works behind closed doors. I remember a long-time ago, before I started writing, I was having repeated dreams about someone I'd never met in real life. She inspired me to begin a story. During the writing, she changed and evolved into a somewhat different person-character than the dream one, who has never visited me again.
Sometimes ideas for stories occur first, either from imagination or occasional contemplation of problems. I might understand what I want a character to be like in a story, but before they can come into being, they have to have a name, which I imagine makes them individuals in my mind. So in those instances, I know a character's personality before I met them, but once I know them by name, they often change. I've written about character names before and where they come from, and why some names can never be used--which is part of the selection process. I've also written a post about evil characters and how I name them.
I've never had a major character die, but some minor ones have; mostly this shows the effect on the main character. The story often continues with how the main character moves on from this devastation. I've also read stories where the ghost of a previous character haunts the main character. That also can prove interesting. I will say that in one of my books a minor character who died is shown alive in another time warp of the story's universe.
Deleting Characters and Scenes:
Writing is time-consuming and sometimes arduous. Cutting a scene is difficult, but I've done it because the scene did nothing for the story. I cannot remember ever cutting a character from a story.
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