My son loves Minecraft. He loves it so much, he used his allowance to buy a picture-free Minecraft-themed chapter book from the school’s book fair. We’ve read it twice. It’s terrible. The plot is nonsensical, everything is telling, and the characters flip without a believable reason.
Last night, my son proposed we read it for a third time. I suggested we do one better and write a Minecraft story just for him. I pulled out my notebook, interrogated my son on what he wanted, and so far, this is what I’ve got:
Steve must find the orange diamond that gives him the power of a good wither to rescue his armored dog, Star, from a cage guarded by an iron golem. He’ll face skeletons and withers to accomplish his goal and save the day.
My daughter caught wind of our planning, exclaimed “I want to do that too!”, and set off to find her own notebook. When I found her camped out in my bedroom planning, she told me she was figuring out all the characters in her book. Considering she’s spent years watching me draw and map out my characters, this isn’t surprising. But I, having a MASSIVE cast of characters of my own, said, “your characters should serve a purpose in the story, otherwise you shouldn’t include them.”
Numerous characters never made it past the early drafts of Isto. There was Mae the elemental, Peter’s dad, and a village of Lasitans. Then the first shifting of timeline came around, and we lost Terrance, Glider, and the Tolvern family. Ocher disappeared too and her role was given to Huntress, who evaded the cut and appears in the current draft. As I worked to clear up some of the overwhelming factors of my prologue, Phillip and his three daughters left the scene.
I cut another character with the second timeline shift. Zinnia carried over from Thanmir War. As I reworked the later chapters, I couldn’t find a way for her to gracefully exit my scene without injury, so I removed her. And as I reread an early chapter, I realized she read like an author-intrusive device to deliver information about another character. *sigh* She does still appear in a fever dream for a total of three sentences, but she’s unnamed.
I don’t know if Zinnia will be back for later books. But I do know something…
I finished my Isto rewrites!!! WOOT! Now it’s removing unnecessary words, finding forgotten words, and making sure all my changes actually make sense. On the side, I’ll be laying out a new Minecraft-themed story for my son. It’ll be interesting. I’ve never written with a 6-year-old audience in mind. He wants pictures too, so we’ll see how that works out.
Do you tend to build up a large cast of characters? Have you ever cut a character you liked? Has reading something terrible inspired you to write something better?