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Keeping a character out of the story?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ireth, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I have an issue with the very ending of my novel, and deciding whether a certain character (who has been alluded to throughout the book) should make an appearance or not.

    The character in question is the Queen of the Unseelie Court, and the mother of the main villain. Notably, she is not a villainous character at all, but a reasonable authority figure like her husband, the King. For the majority of the book she has been away from the Unseelie stronghold for business reasons, but after the events of the climax she is summoned back to deal with things.

    I can't seem to find a logical reason for her NOT to show up at the end. She is by no means a neglectful mother to her children, and she had every intention of returning in time for her son's wedding (the date of which got bumped up several weeks without her knowledge), which never happened anyway for various reasons. Only after the climax, during which important Fae are wounded or killed (spoiler: the prince dies after trying to assassinate the King, who is saved by the MC and her allies), is there time and means to inform her of what's been going on. Naturally, when she hears about things she is going to rush back home as fast as possible.

    The problem is, this happens in the penultimate chapter of the book. And the Fae have ways of cheating when it comes to long travel (mainly in the form of what I call "folding space" to cover more ground efficiently, which works at its best in their own world), so I can't arbitrarily say the journey is too long and the messenger won't get there for a few days (especially since said messenger can turn into a bird and fly there, on top of folding space), or the Queen won't get back in time before the MC leaves and the story ends (which happens a few days after the climax, mostly summarized within the chapter). I cannot/don't want to, likewise, throw in a pointless delay like her horse breaking a leg or something, because that's on the ridiculous side to shove into chapter 19 of 20.

    I feel the Queen's presence would add depth to the resolution, even if it seems slightly redundant during the rest of the plot. I want my characters to see that the villain is strictly the black sheep of his family, and his parents and sister are all perfectly reasonable, even for Fae who consider themselves superior to humans. Even the King's one villainous act (sentencing the MC to death for maiming the prince in self-defense after the prince goes nuts and tries to kill her) is motivated out of a desire to uphold the law. When everything calms down, he is the one who relents and lets the MC and her family leave his kingdom safely. (This is mainly to repay the life-debt owed to them after they save him, but still.) I'm very tempted to have the Queen call out the King on his reasoning for acting against the MC (because she's the only one with enough authority), especially since the MC did all in her power to warn him that the villain was plotting against him, but he brushed her off.
     
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    If you think the queen should appear, then have her appear.

    Suggestion. If this is the story I believe it to be, you were also looking for 'filler' material in the MC's journey. Very well. Have part of that filler be an encounter with either the queen or one of her agents, say a messenger or envoy of some sort. If with the queen, her attitude would be, 'well, once I finish this, then I'll see to that.'
     
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  3. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    With all the reasons you've mentioned, I'd say bring her back in time. Although another question rises in my mind then: you say her actions will show that not all the Fae are horrible and the villain was the only one who was the black sheep - this leads me to the question whether the Queen's appearance at the end of the story would actually serve such a purpouse. It takes time for the reader to get to know characters and bringing her in at the end of the book will probably not allow for enough time for the readers to acquaint themselves with her and judge her personality based on one chapter. If she is going to be a big character or POV in the next installment (presuming there is one) then her role could be the introduction and semi cliff-hanger for the next story. If not, maybe you should simply mention her returning before the MC leaves and do a small paragraph of the Queen scolding the King in front of the MC as one thing that stuck in the MC's mind when she met her. I obviously don't know enough about your story to advise you further, but based on what you've provided, this is what I'd be weighting down.
     
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  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    If the story you're thinking of is WINTER'S QUEEN, then yes it is. I've got the middle part all filled up, though.

    *nod* I see what you're saying. I hadn't intended to write another instalment -- I tried that a few drafts ago, but the ending has changed so much as to make my original sequel idea not feasible at all. At this point I'm not sure what a sequel would reasonably entail, so I'm content to leave it as a standalone.

    My plan with the Queen's introduction was also to serve as an Establishing Character Moment -- one little thing that showcases the primary focus of their personality as it pertains to the plot. There are lots of examples here: Establishing Character Moment - TV Tropes I could have the MC ask people about the Queen throughout the story as well, to get a notion of what she's like as described through others' perspectives, if that would help at all.
     
  5. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    I understand what you mean there, and that could possibly work better thank having her barely mentioned and then showing up at the end with the MC not knowing much about her. Or maybe you could even add in some little snippets of letters or POV's of the Queen that would establish her more.
     
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I don't plan on adding another POV, since I already have three, and I'm not sure what it would add to the plot as a whole. Ditto with letters. The Queen's location and business isn't at all relevant to the story; I just needed a way to have her out of the action while making it clear that she's alive and well.
     
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  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Then have other characters mention this now and again. 'My, was the Queen ticked off when she visited Lord So-and-so.' 'The Queens progress was delayed because a bridge washed out.' 'The Queen is going to be ticked off when she gets back.' That sort of thing.
     
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  8. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

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    I'm thinking that you need to hint for the reader that the Queen is important before she shows up. I would feel a bit cheated if some important character just turns up out of the blue without having any significance at all before. It might work with what ThinkerX is suggesting but also I would suggest that you establish the queen early as a kind of possible saviour for the MC.

    Maybe something along the lines of them trying to get in touch with her during at least the second half or something of the story, but their attempts is somehow blocked. Then the tension could be if she would make it back in time to help them and her presence in the world would be well anchored within the reader.

    Another thought that struck me is that you might introduce her early as an unknown element for the MC. It depends of course on how well the MC knows her and other information I do not have, but maybe you could have the MC consider her as a possible ally but not dare to contact her because he has no idea which side she would choose in the conflict.
     
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    That makes sense. Trouble is, the MC (who is female, btw) has no idea where the Queen is, so trying to contact her is impossible. And I have no idea if the MC's Fae allies (mainly a maidservant and a guard) who DO know where the Queen is would be willing to go behind the King's (or more logically the prince's, since he's the one trying to marry the MC) back at that point. As it is, they only really get the guts to defy the King openly when the MC's life is danger, by breaking the MC out of prison before she can be killed.

    Well, the MC doesn't know the Queen at ALL, and see my response above about contacting her. The question of which side the Queen would choose makes perfect sense, though. I could allude to the "ally or enemy" question otherwise though, like having the MC ask the prince about his mother, with questions like "Do you think she'd approve of me?"
     
  10. Bekka King

    Bekka King Scribe

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    Sometimes it adds mystique to not have someone appear who has been alluded to.

    I'd ask myself this question:Would the reader more likely enjoy the mystique of not having her appear (a good thing) OR feel disappointed that she didn't show up (a bad thing)?
     
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I honestly have no idea. XD Which just makes it all the harder to decide what to do.
     
  12. Bekka King

    Bekka King Scribe

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    Hmmm.... Have you asked someone to read a daft of your manuscript? I'm active in several writer communities and they generally agree that it's good to have someone read your manuscript and give suggestions before you publish. Maybe you could ask someone to look through what you've got and specifically put my question to them? That might help?
     
  13. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I do have a beta reader who's read everything I've written so far, but she advised me to exclude the Queen entirely from the end of the book. I disagreed on that, since I do want to show the Queen having influence on her kingdom. The question is how much to show. Right now I'm still inclined to include her, at least in this draft. Things might change after I manage to write her scene(s) out in full.
     
  14. Bekka King

    Bekka King Scribe

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    All the best with it! :)
     
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