Hello, writers. Here's another thing I've discovered about drafting the third book of a trilogy: At this point, I've got an awful lot of characters milling around. Tons of them. Dozens, scores. They're all over the place. I have character soup.

And every one of them has to be dealt with in some way. They all need some kind of resolution. They're all going to have to be acknowledged, given a role, killed off... something.

Right now, in this early portion of an early draft, they're wandering around all over the scenery. I really have to figure out what to do with them.

I've had to rewrite the beginning (something I'll undoubtedly be doing many more times) to adjust which characters appear in the first scene. This is something else I learned from the editor of Jinx, Anne Hoppe. Readers expect that the characters who appear in the first scene will be important ones, and that the reader should pay attention to them. The first scene isn't the best place to put passersby and plot fodder.

(Plot fodder = characters who show up wearing red shirts. You know the ones I mean. Boromirs.)

A lot of my other scenes have gotten too crowded. I'm going to have to clear people off. When a conversation/conflict/quarrel/water balloon fight/heart to heart talk needs to take place between two or three main characters, they don't necessarily want a large audience. So I'm going to have to work out some devices, give the secondary and tertiary characters something else to do.

Whenever they aren't part of the action, they need to be otherwise accounted for.

Which brings us, as Mr. Colbert would say, to tonight's challenge:

A callow youth and/or his/her stout companion, who have long sought the fabled Jewel of Togwogmagog, through bogs and over mountains, without success, come into the barroom at the Startled Duck one evening and see, to their astonishment, their quondam mentor, the always-offstage Froop.

What's he doing suddenly onstage? they think. But never mind that, they have a few choice words for him.

Before those words can be exchanged, everyone else in the barroom has to be removed from the scene somehow. Think of a device for getting the extras out of there or distracting their attention, and use it.


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