Thursday, August 11, 2016

Right character- wrong story

Sometimes you have an idea for great character in your book. Maybe you already wrote them in, maybe they're something that just popped up as you're writing (or plotting for you plotters ;)) and you think they are awesome!

Then they just seem to clunk around in your story. You know, like when your washing machine is out of whack and you get that thunk, thunk, thunk as it tries to get back into balance?

Yeah....sometimes writing feels like that. Sometimes READING feels like that.  Since none of us as writers want to do that to our readers, and as readers we don't want a good book damaged by that thunking noise, it is important to do a catch and release on those characters.

For me, it's usually more of a reduction of a character, and mostly minor ones at that. Since I am a serious pantser, I often don't know who is going to stick around for the long haul of my minor characters. The bigger ones are fine, primary, secondary- yeah--I KNOW them.

I just relocated one of my secondary characters.

Now, the character in question is from one of my unfinished books, an epic fantasy. She was an important character to the story (or so I thought at the time) but her section never really fit. Since that book is waiting with the other half-books (and two completed ones) for time to finish, I wasn't really worried about it. I figured I could save her somehow, make her work.

But yesterday she popped up in my head while writing The Sapphire Manticore (aka Book Four of The Lost Ancients). I had a type of character I knew was going to be in this book, but hadn't fleshed them out at all (pantser, remember?), then while working on the draft yesterday morning I started writing her voice...and it was the troublesome character from the unfinished Epic Fantasy!  

I think she'll fit much better here, and has already gotten to know the drunken faeries (apparently her long lost sister was semi-responsible for them meeting Taryn--but that's another story ;)).

So, if you have a character who you LOVE, but they just don't fit in that book--remove them, but hold onto them. They may just need to be relocated (although I'm not completely sure she didn't just relocate herself ;)).


  1. I know what you're talking about. You introduce a character because your hero is going to take a certain path and then, before you know it, your hero is on the opposite side of your story world doing stuff a ninja geisha spy would never be a part of. But you love everything about Kikyo Butshudo, she's great. The world needs more stories and maybe you can write one about that includes all your other stories' rejects, lost souls, and misfits.
    Great post, Marie

    1. Thanks, Sharon! You ARE going to tell me a tale about Kikyo now though, right?

      Hmmm, maybe a book of misfit characters? ;). Thanks for coming by!

  2. Boy do we know what you're saying. Our fourth book, just released, in our series "The Turning Stone Chronicles" came about because a secondary character demanded a book of her story. You can plan all you want but the characters will have their say.

  3. I haven't had that happen to me yet. I usually start out with a pretty generic character at the beginning of the book, adapting him/her as the story progresses. By the time the story is over halfway finished, he/she is so intricately linked with that story, I don't know how I could fit them in anywhere else.