Sacrificing Danny ... by Jody Feldman

 In the 1st, 2nd, and 30th revisions of my first MG novel, The Gollywhopper Games, there was Danny. 

A grad student who lived next door to Gil, the main character, Danny was the person Gil hung out with after school. Danny was the one who listened to him when his parents were dealing with other problems. Danny was Gil’s only friend and his soft place to fall. As it turned out, though, Danny had to be sacrificed to the gods of the 31st revision.

First thoughts of his impending demise came from a less-than-usual source: a rejection letter. The legendary editor who took time to write me a full page, well-reasoned response said, point blank, that Danny was problematic. It's not important, now, why she said that. What is important, begrudgingly, she was right. By killing off Danny and needing a different adult to fill the void, I was forced to dive deeper into Gil’s relationship with his father. And it made the book that much better.

As for poor Danny? Yes, his sacrifice was necessary but it’s not so easy to kill your darlings, especially when those darlings are beloved characters. So, while Danny is no longer someone Gil knew before, he exists in cameo roles in all three Gollywhopper Games books. Even so, I'll always miss the special bond those two had... and in revealing Danny’s fun secret, which may, forever, remain with me. Or maybe not.

Now that Jody Feldman is writing another thriller, she finds she must sacrifice characters all the time. But now, she’s letting the evil people in her stories do the job.


  1. Scissors (or the delete button) can be more important than the pen. (But LISTENING is also so important.)

  2. Love the way you said this!


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