Kailyn, Kailyn, Kailyn, let me count the ways I detest you.
From page 1 of my first draft of Tails (though, it was more like page 5 because Kailyn wasn't in the first page) I detested my romantic interest and female protagonist: Kailyn. She was vapid, whiney, meek, and more a plot device than person. There were things I wanted her to be: smart, resourceful, responsible. Then there was her - a waste of space.
In my numerous drunken rambles about my novel, I would often drone on about how I was going to fix Kailyn. But, really, couldn't figure out how. 'Can you cut her?' No, she's my Male protag's motivation. How can I get rid of her? 'Can you make her less annoying?' If only. I thought, maybe I could minimize her. I'll make her a secondary character, instead of a primary.
I knew the best thing for my novel was to slice off the first 3 chapters and start the book where Kailyn finds a nearly dead Damarion on the beach. One problem - it might lead the focus of the book to be Kailyn instead of Damarion, and I couldn't stand that. So I fussed over the first 3 useless chapters for two months and shelved the WIP.
So, as I sat my my computer throwing bits of 1st draft around like confetti, I started thinking. I have to start the story at that previously mentioned point. Which means I have to deal with my issues with my FMC. But first, a little procrastination. I'm do so much changing (like, solidifing the setting), I thought some characters deserved name changes. And you know what? I never really liked Kailyn for a name anyway.
Five minutes of name research and a list of 10 potential names, and popular vote had a new name for my Female protagonist - Cora. Ah, it brings up thoughts of femme fatales and Lana Turner.
A young Lana Turner would totally make a great Steampunk Princess.
Because Cora is not Kailyn. Cora is everything I wanted Kailyn to be.
Then it came to me - I just cut Kailyn out of the book. But didn't delete the spot, I delted the character, and replaced her with someone better.
So, there's a few lessons I learned from this. 1.) Everything is in a name, and 2.) You can delete a character without deleting a character's role. When I started writing about Cora, I didn't think of her as Kailyn with a new name. Even a new image came to my mind as I was writing. Everything about the character just clicked in my head. Immeadately, I started referring to Kailyn as Cora. The act of changing her name allowed me to change the character because I was no longer thinking of that character. I was thinking of someone new.
And I solved one of my biggest issues with the manuscript by deleting that character I hated withouth deleting the role I assigned her.
So I think a really good trick when you're stuck with a flat character is to change up a name. It worked perfectly for me!