HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1
    Eric Gilmartin

    Character's surprising growth

    Ever conjure up a minor person, say for one or two scenes of expository business, who actually takes on a more important role than you had planned for him or her (or it, if you write sf and/or fantasy)?

    I have several such characters in my book "Wolfpack Stories: Volume I" and I'm glad I let the growth happen - not only did it force me to become better at what I did with the book, but the characters took on color and shading and depth that made them and the main characters more appealing, I think.

    I'm not actually as surprised by the growth of one such character, "Lieutenant Commander Clementine McConal" - she is the ex-sweetheart-turned-occasional-nemesis of the hero, "Lieutenant Commander Theodore Voight" and in order to get across why she was so important to him in the past, I had to add several lines of dialogue that explored their relationship. Also, to make her less rigid and hard and more three-dimensional, I had to show her in various moods: angry, frustrated, playful, etc. One line I put in, almost by default, about her having studied the history of space travel turned into a subplot for one section of the book, and so improved her impact decisively. She even got her oft-professed goal of commanding a space mission by the twenty-second chapter of the book, so her growth arc was at that point basically complete. And she was supposed to be more of a minor background character than anything else.

    Her rise to prominence, though, was not as spectacular as that of another character who was generated essentially to present a joke - I'm not kidding. I have a character calling himself "Ensign Anton Foxworth" who is an amnesiac ... even his name is suspect, used for the sake of convenience. Because he has amnesia, some of his fellow pilots ordere "mind erasers" at the bar, only they call them "Ensign Foxworths" - har, har. The girl who did the ordering originally had no name, but in order to make the scene seem more friendly and grounded in some kind of reality, I had Foxworth address her as "Sharon", then had someone else call her "Ensign Lamplighter." Damned if twenty other times in the book, whenever I needed somebody to pop up, fill out a flight crew for a mission, tell a joke, do some other bit of business, Sharon didn't show up again. She went from being literally a nameless, one-scene spear carrier, to a running character who actually makes a number of valid and interesting appearances throughout the novel.

    Has anybody else had this happen in his or her work? A character devised for one specific scene or purpose just grows and grows and shows no signs of stopping ... and your work benefits as a result of it? I'm not talking, of course, about a runaway character that displaces other figures in your story to no effect.

  2. #2
    Valerie Moreau

    Re: Character's surprising growth

    it happens more often then I can believe. I also find that characters I think are going to be important end up not quite fitting in with the story line. Many times their roles end up cut completely during those inevitable rewrites

  3. #3
    Ele Thurman

    Re: Character's surprising growth

    Yes! In one of my novels I had the characters acting a certain way in my mind. When I got to know them better as I wrote the story, they acted in a totally different way. As the story unfolded, it became clear that they would not react as I'd originally planned. This was most unexpected, but a pleasant surprise and I went with it and was very pleased with the outcome.

    Guess when we get to know our characters more intimately, we understand what motivates them. I also found myself falling for the bad guy. He's the type one loves to hate. I'm finding a way to bring him back in the third book of the series.

    I also find myself casting actors in the leading roles for better visualization. Does anyone else do that?


  4. #4

    Re: Character's surprising growth

    Perhaps the purest example of this is THE GIMP on Pulp Fiction. Man, that guy's huge in Romania!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts