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Keeping minor characters in the picture?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ireth, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I have several minor characters in my latest WIP whose lives are affected by the MC and the villain, but I'm having trouble deciding what to do with them. One is a man named Ailin, who was struck blind by the villain's henchman; the blindness is magical in nature, and will disappear once the henchman dies. I haven't written about Ailin since he was first blinded, aside from the odd mention of it by other characters, and I don't want him to drop out of the plot completely until his sight comes back, whenever that happens. (I'm still trying to decide when it would be best for the henchman to die, whether in a matter of days or weeks after the blinding incident.)

    I want to write an Ailin-centric scene while the main plot is at a bit of a lull and the MC is occupied elsewhere, but I can't think of anything to have happen. Being blind, Ailin can't work as he used to, and so he'll mainly have stuff happening TO him while he's confined to the infirmary for his own safety's sake. (Can't have him blundering around and hurting himself, after all.) I was thinking of having other characters entertain him, maybe by reading to him, but I'm not sure how exactly that would serve to advance the plot as well as develop character. Should I worry about that, or if the scene doesn't contribute to the main plot, is it best just to not write it at all?

    A similar, related issue involves three other characters who are currently traveling to see the aforementioned henchman where he is being imprisoned. I don't want anything to delay them on their journey (weather, enemies, etc.), and I don't want to skip ahead to them reaching their destination just yet, as it would take me out of chronology with the rest of the plot. I was thinking of having them get to know each other and each others' cultures (one's a Celtic Fae, one's a Norse elf, and the third is a Norse-Gaelic human) by telling stories back and forth, but that strikes me as having potential to be boring, and skimmed over as filler even though it would explore their characters as well as histories, because it doesn't strictly advance the plot. Any thoughts on either of these problems?
     
  2. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Just shooting from the hip here, but concerning Ailin, maybe have him trying to survive somehow instead of being cooped up in an infirmary? After all, in real life blind people manage to live their lives. Maybe portray the challenges he faces adjusting to such a huge loss then, as he's largely adjusted to it, his sight is restored? Just a quick thought.

    The idea for the other two sounds pretty good to me. Just don't let it snowball and take off on some big tangent from the main plot.
     
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  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Well, as I said, I have no idea what Ailin could do if he weren't cooped up in the infirmary. He's the janitor of the castle (or the medieval equivalent thereof), so his job involves a lot of moving around and cleaning, which he can't do if he can't see. He's very much the workaholic type, so suddenly having infinite leisure time would just leave him bored out of his skull. And again, his blindness would make taking up a hobby somewhat difficult.

    Nope, not gonna happen. :) I've got that mainly figured out. They're gonna get where they're going, all hell's gonna break loose (or just the henchman, lol), and then they'll go back where they started from. It's just the in-between bits that are giving me trouble right now.
     
  4. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    If he's been in the building that long, he probably could navigate it in the dark anyway, so he can likely get up and find his way around by following the wall with one hand.
     
  5. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Yep. And maybe, being blind, he's largely underestimated. Combine that with his intimate knowledge of the castle and he ends up discovering something important.
     
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    That's true. But still, I need ideas for things that could happen/things he could do, which would ideally advance the plot at the same time. I can't involve the villain in this, because nobody knows much about her yet except the MC, and Ailin and his peers all believe the MC to be dead (he isn't, but word of that hasn't reached them yet). Said villain is biding her time waiting for the henchman to return before she tries anything offensive against the good guys, and the henchman won't escape back to her until at least the next day, if not the day after. Due to crimes the henchman committed, he's going to be tried and sentenced to die; the three who are traveling to see him have been instructed to act as his translators, since the henchman does not speak his captors' language (he's Norse, they're Irish). The three won't reach their destination for a good day or so yet, and they're traveling in the opposite direction of where Ailin and his peers are, since two of their number are from there in the first place. So no chance of meshing those plotlines either.

    Wow, that got really rambly. There's a point in there somewhere, I promise. ^^;
     
  7. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    If he's a workaholic, wouldn't he work? He wants to make sure everything is done just right.
     
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    See my previous post. The villain has yet to openly oppose the good guys (who are still in complete ignorance of her), and there's nothing he could find that would point to her whereabouts or identity. All that information lies with the MC and the henchman, as I said above.
     
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    He would if he could, but he can't without the use of his eyes, as I've said.
     
  10. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    What, has all the furniture been rearranged? He can smell if a chamberpot needs to be emptied, he can feel along a table to see if it's clean, he can do the same on the floors...
     
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    The first two I'll grant you, but I may have mentioned he lives in a castle. That is a LOT of floor to be crawling around on to see if it needs swept. Kinda bad for his back, and he has enough issues with that already, since he has a clubfoot as well.
     
  12. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    My point is, he's lost one sense. He hasn't lost them all. He's intelligent, he can learn to do things in a new way. In fact, the experience of him learning might be good to write about. Blindfold yourself and try to clean for a few hours to get an idea of what it's like. Really. The experience will do you good.

    As for me, I didn't have to. I've known my blind step-father since I was 12. He does just fine cleaning except for stuff that you can only see but not feel or smell.
     
  13. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I would, if my older sister hadn't told me that sweeping, mopping and vacuuming was HER job and hers alone. Believe me, I've tried to convince her to let me do some of it, but she basically says "no, that's how I relax. Go do the dishes." And I can't do THAT right now, because I have an open wound on my hand from trying to do dishes a few days ago and breaking a glass. >_<

    Now we're getting somewhere. How does he do all that? That could help me a lot.
     
  14. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    I told ya. By feel and smell. A clean tabletop feels different from a dirty one. Same with a plate or glass.

    The majority of blind people use their hands as their eyes. They feel everything.
     
  15. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Janitors don't wash dishes. And that still doesn't help him with the floors. Or climbing ladders to get at cobwebs in the corners of the ceiling, that kind of thing. VERY dangerous for a blind guy.
     
  16. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    Oh, I dunno, my step-dad did roofs for a while. The first time up I think he was feeling for where the edge of the roof is and counting the steps up. Once he knew how many steps were between the roof and the floor, he could just count and know when to step off.
     
  17. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Years ago, I was a driver for a 'van service'. Many of our riders were disabled, several were blind.

    The 'blind person' incident that stands out was a young female rider (as in about 11), who upon entering the van, cocked her head and (correctly) told me the transmission was low on fluid. She could hear the difference in the pitch.

    As to your situation with the blind guy, some thoughts pop into mind:

    First, despite being blind, there are some parts of his old job your blind guy might decide he is capable of. He knows right *exactly* where that piece of floor is that collects the most debries (the one in front of the door to the gardens or some other outside location) and by now *knows* the dimensions so precisely he doesn't need to see the floor once he gets oriented.

    He doesn't have to succeed at each task he puts his mind to. In fact, if he failed, this brings us to the next option - religion.

    Second, a situation like that, a guy is likely to turn to religion - whichever one is prevelant in your castle. Maybe spend a few hours in prayer before the stature of the saint or deity in charge of healing, make the a regular part of his new routine.

    Now, he's likely familiar with the temple by sight...but being sightless means he has to get used to it in a whole new way, which means he might blunder across something of...future interest. Not something connected with the main plot at this moment, but something relevant later on.
     
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  18. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    True. But just because he knows where certain spots most likely to have dirt are doesn't mean he automatically knows everywhere that's dirty at any given point in time. That still provides a hindrance in his work, and more reason for him to take advantage of his leisure and let others who would offer to take over for him do so.

    Hmm. Ailin is pagan (specifically Celtic), so I'm not sure the castle would have any sort of temples within the walls -- more likely there'd be sacred groves or somesuch in the woods close by. Those might be hard for Ailin to get to, since he literally never goes outside the castle walls for fear of the Fae. And he has good reason -- he has the Sight, something the Fae hate because it allows him to see them when they want to stay hidden. If not for the truce going on right now, any Fae he came across would be incredibly likely to make his blindness permanent by stabbing his eyes out completely (as has been pointed out in the story itself). Also, I don't know if the Celts had any specific god devoted to healing. The Norse-Gaelic population might lead him toward the goddess Eir, but obviously his belief or nonbelief in the Norse pantheon would be an issue.
     
  19. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    I don't know how your castle is organized, but I'd think there are more workers. He could swap with someone else, for his own job needs to be done, too. He could assist in the kitchen, cleaning the kettles under supervision of someone else, carrying wood, pumping up water, feed the pigs, those things. Give him one of those little kids that are always underfoot to be his 'eyes' for getting around.
    Having someone stay in the infirmary, costing money without working, while he isn't ill or hurt, doesn't seem convincing to me.
     
  20. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    Especially not if the patient has been described as a workaholic. That seems way out of character.
     
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