Writer Woe Number 428 (or something like that): Too Many Blasted Characters
First of all, I know what you’re going to say.
You’re going to say that the sheer volume of characters in my novels is my own stupid fault. That I was a doofus and basically unleashed the population of a small movie theater (on a Harry Potter premier night) into my imagination and said, “Sure you can join the party!”
I’ve told my Beta team, especially Spider, that she has free license to shoot me if I ever dream up another series with this sheer volume of characters and twists. She was like, “Oh don’t worry, I will because MY BRAIN has melted as well!”
I’d say that 70% of the time, I have a solid grasp on crowd control and how the vast cast works through the novels. But the other 30% of the time? It’s like trying to work your way to the girl’s bathroom at a One Direction concert. PURE CHAOS.
True North has proven to be the toughest novel to wrangle in the Undertow series so far. There are numerous scenes with multiple characters interacting at once. And we’re not talking fight scenes (I mean, there ARE fight scenes, but right now I’m not referring to them in this whine-a-log . . . though they are totally kick-ass. Wait . . . what was I moaning about? Oh, right . . .). I’m talking dialogue heavy scenes where more than four characters are talking at once and I have several that are more than seven.
Yeah, I know – I already ordered a straight jacket in my size from Amazon. Thank goodness I have Prime with the two day shipping and all.
What irks me is when I don’t like how a multi-character scene feels, even after several re-writes. I pride myself on how I mix Eila and her crew in many scenes where they bounce off one another, talking, moving, and interrupting one another like real people. And they’re not real, you know? I’m serious: they are NOT real. I mean, I’m thrilled reviewers and fans seem to forget that little piece of info, but DAMN – keeping them “real” is a task and a half inside the books (I may rely heavily on cookies and chips with dip).
Making those scenes, with dialogue flying back and forth among a group of distinctive characters with frayed emotions, is really hard. In fact, I’d say dialogue among multiple characters at once, is probably the bane of most writers, because even if one character is doing the soapbox thing, the others around him or her have to still feel present to the reader. You can’t just write the scene and flatly ignore everyone else in the room (though, lord knows, I’ve met a few REAL people who act that way).
So yes, True North is taking longer than expected because many scenes are being retweaked until I like them, but I will admit – I LOVE this particular installment of the series.
And once I’m done, the manuscript will head to my MEGA AWESOME Beta team. Having a Beta team as spectacular as they are, cross-checking the characters in the previous books and making sure I don’t fumble a story thread, is a HUGE task that they pull off flawlessly. I’m MADLY grateful for all their incredible work over the years. Seriously – I could never, ever pull off the series (which is turning into more of an epic), without them. My wish, for all writers, is to have such an amazing team of Betas behind them.
After nearly two years of scattering numerous puzzle pieces of story line over 300,000 words of urban fantasy insanity, readers will finally get to see how all the pieces fit together in True North. And yes, that includes Cruel Summer as well, with its numerous hidden breadcrumbs.
Wait – what’s that you say?
You thought it was just a prequel novella about Kian and Ana’s romance?
Dude, have you MET ME? Have you READ me?
Pfft – I do nothing with out a devious twist.