It’s July! Heat’s in, fireworks have mucked with the air quality, and I’ve finally managed to get to a headspace where I’m not overwhelmed. June was good, despite being busy. I got to watch AJR in concert, which was awesome. We started the long and expensive process of orthodontic work for my daughter. My friends hosted a successful first-annual book event. I celebrated 16 years of being married. I started the long-awaited work of demolishing my defunct hot tub. It’s been productive, and with school no longer in session, I’ve had one less thing to juggle within my limited mental space.
I’ve also been writing! I’ve made decent progress on book 2, though not in word count. I get stalled out easily if I don’t know how to solve a problem, and that’s happened more than a dozen times with this book.
The latest dilemma: too many characters.
Some of you might be thinking, “that’s just now become a problem??” because you know I’ve got a TON of characters. Believe it or not, I try my best to limit how many appear in any given scene. But in this case, I need to introduce and make these characters relevant to set up events in the last quarter of the book, and I was stuck on how to do that without bogging everything down.
I figured it out.
The easiest solution to having too many characters in a scene is to remove everyone. I cackled as I told my best friend of my plan to pluck my character from his companions, providing me a great opportunity to inject these necessary characters, set things up for later in the book, then pack them away before he reunites with his companions.
Now I just need to type it.
IWSG Question of the Month – If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?
You know, I’m not sure here. You might wonder (or not), would I live in my book world? Heck no. It’s way too dangerous! I wouldn’t subject my kids to that, and I wouldn’t choose a world without my family.
If I were 30 years younger, I might say Xanth (Piers Anthony) or Landover (Terry Brooks). But at my current stage of life, I don’t know that I could survive a fantasy world. I’m having enough trouble with the real one.
Have you made progress on any of your projects? How has summer been treating you? Did you spend any time in Xanth or Landover, like I did as a kid?
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22 thoughts on “Chipping Away #IWSG”
Hi Loni, from the even crazier than usual UK
Tense month, too many miles on the same motorway, time for writing limited. . *
As the cost of fuel for cars and people rockets – escape to a bookworld encouraged time out, thinking, which one ? My choice was unexpected – a series focused on a place of safety, for unwanted children – displaced by war , deaths, family breakdown , saved and loved by a great grandmother – and centuries old house. –
* someone special admitted for emergency surgery, has CP, we need to be around.
I heard a writing advisor once say that you should never have more than one character that performs the same function in a story. I had a mini mental freak-out moment when he said that, because I was a new writer and a detail-oriented person who often forgets to step back and look at the big picture. Luckily, I didn’t have any superfluous characters I needed to cut.
Progress? I’m almost done writing my reader magnet for my newsletter. After that, I’ll take a small break to do some much-needed house cleaning, then I’ll dive into research and plotting for book four of my western series.
I am very impressed with all you got done in June. Well done!
I remember hearing some writing advice along the lines of trying to combine characters and their roles. Like if there’s a best friend character and a doctor character, can the best friend be the doctor?
I do try to combine roles when possible, but these characters already exist–they died in the first book and are the main character’s emotional support system in the third book. He has to come to terms with them being stuck as voices in his head for all eternity, and also learn from them to use their knowledge and power during the final battle of book 2. He doesn’t discover they’re trapped in his body until the seals come off and they start talking to him… and trying to insert that scene was the kicker, because his companions can’t interact with these characters, making the companions unnecessary to the scene, while still being needed for the rest of the book.
Another funny thought… one of the characters in question is a doctor, and he does become the best friend (in book 3). Ha!
Sounds like you’re definitely making progress on the second book. Let me know when you’re ready to have someone look it over. Lord knows I’m not making much progress on my own work.
You got a lot accomplished! And it must feel nice to finally get at the tub.
You are definitely making progress! I am often plagued with too many characters, who then decide to hijack the action. I’ve fallen down that rabbit-hole many a time.
I spent a lot of my time in Pern. I’m all about dragons!
Keeping busy all right!
Remove all the characters – brilliant.
You’re right, most of us would not survive in a fantasy world.
Keep at it! You’ve gotten so much done.
I’ve been plugging away at edits when I can. Things have gotten really crazy since this spring and it is only getting more packed. Mostly by scouts. I’m having to say no to events just because it’s one after another and our unit doesn’t have enough adult leadership to give people breaks to keep up the schedule.
Weirdly enough, I spent most of my time in Star Trek worlds growing up. It was quite common to find me with a Voyager book in hand. Sometimes TNG. Got into other sci-fi and I’m not entirely certain when or how I made the jump to fantasy (okay, let’s face it, I like straddling the line).
You’re keeping busy – good for you.
“I don’t know that I could survive a fantasy world. I’m having enough trouble with the real one.” – I like that notion of yours. I definitely wouldn’t want to live in most speculative fiction stories I have read. Too much turbulence. But there are some stories with a milder political and social climate, and I wouldn’t mind living there. I talked about it in my today’s post.
I read once a writing advice about too many secondary characters in one’s fiction. The author of that article recommended to combine several characters into one to reduce the number, and I found his suggestion helpful. Maybe you could think about it.
It’s great when you finally figure out how to solve that plot problem. Congratulations. And good luck on the work ahead.
I love how summer means more mental space. I’m with you there! I think having a lot of characters is not necessarily a problem, depending on how it’s handled. I posted on my blog today about the Moosepath League. Those books have a lot of characters and multiple subplots, but I think the key is that they often split off in small groups for their subplots and then come back together at the end.
I thought the same thing about living in a book world. Many are way too dangerous. So I picked Corfu, Greece from a memoir. A real-world place.
Glad you are in a good mental space!
Remove the characters. Why not? Then you’ll know who doesn’t work.
Happy 16 years.
Just have to write it. Yeah, that’s all. hehehe
I know your character planning will pay off. Like everything else in creative writing, justifying setting, character, and each *&^%^%*& scene is the thing to do. 😉
Anna from elements of emaginette
All the best for your second book! Looks like you are already acing it 😀
You’re right. Fantasy worlds can be quite dangerous, especially if you don’t know what the heck to expect under that mushroom.
It can be hard to juggle too many characters in a scene, and also not giving enough time to any given character. (Peeves the ghost in Harry Potter didn’t make it to any of the movies. Suggesting he didn’t get enough page time to be “uncuttable.”)
Thank you for stopping by my blog on IWSG day. I hope we’ll keep visiting each other.
J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author
“At my current stage of life, I don’t know that I could survive a fantasy world. I’m having enough trouble with the real one.” – YES, this is me.
I seem to remember Stephen King had an issue with too many characters when he was writing The Stand–so he blew about a third of them up. So, you know, there’s always that option.
Yay for turning the season of relaxation into productive time!
To minimize characters, I imagine I have to pay for the cast and try to give the needed action and lines to an already existing character.
I’m encouraged by your work ethic, Loni. You make me want to get something done. Having too many characters has been a problem for me once or twice. It was hard to cut some of them but I’m glad I did. Hope you’re having a nice July.