Fall is always a great time to go back and revisit old projects or get back to editing a project that summer forced you to put on hold. Kids are back in school. Vacations have been taken. You are recharged and ready to get out your editing machete and do some damage in the name of good writing.
And the best place to start making a dry manuscript come back to life is with darling hunting.
Note I’m not saying killing. Like a responsible hunter you should be discerning who is not strong enough to last the winter and who’s death would be detrimental of the story. So stalk your characters. Observe their actions. Are they dragging down the herd or are they driving the action? Will thinning them out make the story stronger (drive action, bring more emotion, up the ante, force the change in your dynamic characters) or will is destroy it (leave other characters grasping and wanting with no where to go)?
In my current project, I tried everything I could not to kill a main character. She was wonderful; funny, dynamic and heroic. And she had to die. I was surprised she ended up taking a few minor (and equally likable) characters with her, but it was how the story went. Resisting it, as I have in the past, would have left me with a stale mate or at least a stale ending.
Consider your targets and go over the options in your mind. Be calculating. Prepare to be sad that you snuffed out a character you loved. Deal with it. Take the shot. See how the circle of life recharges your story.
And have fun writing!