Monday, July 4, 2011

Combining characters

Revising Project Demo is progressing more smoothly--though still with much anxiety and hair-pulling. Lately I've been focusing on plot and characters, making sure each character has a goal that drives them through the novel.

I had two characters who were frustrating me. One was instrumental to the plot early on, but didn't have a role in the climax. The other character was introduced to the story late, but I couldn't figure out how to incorporate him any earlier. It wasn't until I was making a list in my note book of problems to tackle that I had a revision revelation: both of these characters had the same role in the story.

So my task this week isn't to rewrite the plot to include both characters throughout the story, but to combine the characters into one. They're very different people, so I have some decisions to make, and I'm a little regretful of losing one character's funny quirks.

But the change ultimately makes for simpler, more streamlined storytelling. And now that I've stumbled across one combination, I've been on the look out for other ways to combine characters, settings, and scenes to ensure that each has a concentrated purpose and impact.

It's moments like these where I'm reminded of how little storytelling is like real life.

Have you ever combined elements in your writing? Or have you expanded your writing, trying to give each thing its own individual purpose?

Oh, and for my American readers, Happy Fourth!


  1. Funnily enough, I only recently decided to combine two plots into one. I gather it will make the whole book more interesting, as I get to show many different shades of the people involved. I never tried combining characters, though that sounds totally plausible. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love having realizations like that. I've never had to combine characters, but I've often had to cut them out. It's sad, but it can also be very liberating. It sounds like you're on your way to a nice, focused story--good luck!

  3. Hazel: Thanks for stopping by! It makes my head hurt just imagining combining two plots, though I definitely agree with you. Somehow by minimizing the number of characters or plot lines, everything that's left holds more connections and more impact. Good luck on your writing!

    Anna: It is sad losing characters. Somehow even though you know it works, it makes your book world seem a little less diverse and rich. But I know it will work better for it. Have to focus on that liberating aspect of it! Here's hoping I'm on my way to a nice, focused story... that WOULD be nice! ;)

  4. Good for you for both making the realization and then doing something about it. I fret over "killing" characters, which is necessary if you're going to combine them into one--although I suppose aspects of both are in the new, single character. Interesting.

  5. MG: Actually, I suppose it isn't exactly a combination. The new character will be mostly the one who originally only appeared in the latter half of the book. He will replace the other character in some of the early scenes, but I'll keep some of the former character's background true to make the new character work. Thankfully the whole thing really does work so perfectly, that it's shocking I didn't realize it before. Nice when it's easy and painless like that. I've had much more difficult character "deaths" in other books! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I've never yet had to combine a character, but it sounds like, for you, the transition went pretty smoothly.

    Oh, thanks for the Fourth of July wellwishes! :)

  7. I've never combined characters, but if I can't use them I save them for another wip. You can definitely use the character with funny quirks in another novel. :)

  8. Cat: It did got pretty smoothly--now I'm just waiting for whatever I didn't expect to come back and bite me! =)

    Medeia: That's such a good point, I'll do that. Makes me feel better about abandoning him! ;)

  9. Revising can be so fun and so horrible at the same time. And secondary characters can be tricky too!

  10. Christina: Hah! That's exactly it! Each day of revising this wip is an adventure, that's for sure!


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