My novel went through a sudden and surprising change this week. After a discussion with a fellow writer I realised that a secondary chracter was of far more importance than I had given her credit for and she has now elbowed her way in to the position of central character without much conscious input from me. In shifting the bases like this the plot has not compeltely altered but undergone a major and exciting shift. To accomodate this I have had to give one character his marching orders and drop him , pity because I really liked him, he was pretenious to an ubelievalbe degree but he had kind of grown on me, but he has gone, hopefully to resurface elsewhere some day.
I just wondered if anyone else has experienced similar almost organic changes in their novels, where you are happily proceding in one direction and the work decides to progress in another. Which begs the question , how far do we control the thing we write and how much is it, as it often seems to be, its own creature assuming its own form, with the writer as some kind of conduit or incubator?
HI Suan, thanks for the reply. Trevolution, I love it, wish I had thought of it. I learned the difference between writing and editing last year by completing NANOWRIMO with two days to spare, and like you say it is all about getting to the end, just write don't cnesor or think, just go for it. I shall lookout for Trevor!
I just published the fourth book in a series (Expert Witness). People are loving it. The question they ask is 'why did you kill that character at the end? She was fabulous. She could have been a series." I knew it but her death worked on a lot of levels. Now I'm sorry I didn't listen to my gut! Good for you for recognizing the importance of this character early on. PS another author friend had a great idea - do a prequel series with that character. Last book in that series will be when she meets the characters in this series and dies. Now that is a brilliant thinker!
Briillant and slightly sneaky, in the best possible way!
I was pretty impressed with her thought process, too. I guess that's why authors need to keep talking to each other :)
@Rebecca, or you could find some fantastical way to bring her back! But the prequel is the better idea. :)
@Susan Wow how terrific! I have several short stories I want to turn into novels, and I'm currently working on a horror. What I've decided to do is to write a Nancy Drew type series, but the Main character will be my oldest granddaughter with her sister being a sidekick. Their names are Madison and Katie. I just have to come up with a catchy series title. This will be a totally new type of writing for me. Challenged but excited :)
How much detail on characters descriptions is too much? Is it too little detail to let the reader imagine what they want?
You could paint some readers a picture (often called cover art) and they will still get upset because that's not how THEY envisioned your character.
The key to characterization is to do it right -- don't hit the reader over the head with strings of adjectives and other descriptors. Find one thing that sets your character apart from the others, and use that as your reference point. (You'll edit a lot of these out)
And then use your betas or a content editor to help you hone in on the character. Remember: the goal is to make your character seem alive to your reader.
Great information! Truly very helpful.
Marilyn, That is an interesting question on 'how much is too much'. I don't think it's a matter of drawing a line but a matter of your personal style. I tend to give enough for the reader to get a picture of the people I'm writing about but that's about it. If your style is to go into deep description and you do it well then it can never be too much as long as it doesn't bore the reader. That's all we do, after all. Keep the reader turning those pages :)
Thank you! Wonderful reply :)
My novel is about a missing child. When I wrote the first draft we followed two women, the biological mother and the women raising the child. Towards the end of the book is a legal battle with an attorney. THEN I rewrote the book making the attorney the MC helping the biological mother out of a legal battle she didn't even have in the first draft. THEN one reader suggested a fling with the detective and another reader suggested someone try to kill her. I THOUGHT THEY WERE BOTH NUTS... THEN I THOUGHT AGAIN. NOW a book about two mothers, one searching for a child and one keeping her child's true identy a secreat has turned into a whodunit romance. Besides the names, nothing is the same. And it is so much better then it was before and as an added bonus, it can be a series.
I give very limited descriptions of my characters and they are spread throughout the book. In fact now that I think about it, the reader knows more about the MC's assistant and the two detectives then they do about the MC. It is her POV and she doesn't really describe herself. I have told the reader a lot about her personality though.
I agree with Susan about not hitting the reader of the head. I was in a writing group and one reading was the first chapter of a book. The MC got in an elevator and looking at her reflection in the elevator door she described herself from hair, eye and skin color to exactly what she was wearing... talk about a self absorbed character...and bored readers.