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MC going it alone

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Hawthorn, May 7, 2021.

  1. Hawthorn

    Hawthorn Dreamer

    I'm just about to embark on the tricky middle of my wip. This is the bit where all the adventure happens and the MC goes off on her 'quest', but I've been getting stuck and struggling to move things along in a way which I find interesting.

    Anyway, I realised that as it stands in my outline, my MC is going off and doing the adventures on her own. And wondering if this is part of the problem. I enjoy writing the scenes where she interacts with the other main characters, building the characters and relationships, and that's something that won't happen for a lot of the book as it stands. I have been wondering whether it might not be a better / more interesting story if she has a companion for the journey. But I don't know who to give her as a companion. Taking one of my other main characters along would be problematic, as she doing stuff they are not meant to find out about yet. But I'm wary of introducing a new character that she'll be spending a significant proportion of the book with, rather than with one or more of the 'important' characters (like the one who is a sort of love interest but will betray her). I'm also wary of having her spend too much time away from those other main characters, and wondering whether this will be a problem for the relationship arc.

    So I guess my question here is, do I...
    1) Have her go it alone
    2) Introduce a new character
    3) Rework some of my plot so that one of the other main characters can go along with her (or at least that she encounters them along the way, if not as a travelling companion)
    4) Something else entirely?

    Any thoughts would be very much appreciated!
  2. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

    Do her adventures have her interacting with anyone? Or is she wandering the wilderness with no one, not even an animal companion, to talk to?

    Adventures usually mean meeting someone along the way. She'd get interactions out of that.

    If talking animals fit the world building, maybe she could ride a talking horse, or something like that.
    Asher the Red likes this.
  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    Give her a critter: a horse, a dog, a familiar. She has some relationship with it and she sees it as more than just an animal, so she can vocalize her thoughts/concerns to the animal and she can have interactions with it. The animal can sense danger/monsters, it's someone she could defend in a fight, it's someone she can have an emotional attachment to.

    My love interest character has a half-monstrous hunting bird that solves multiple issues: it helps him hunt monsters (which would be hard for him to do on his own), it fits his name/backstory (family breeds/trains these things), it helps with the narrative tension (hard to run/hide from a birb), and it gives him someone to interact with. He's very "friendship is for losers" but someone being alone 100% of the time isn't great for them mentally. The bird is semi-intelligent so the interactions won't be entirely one-sided but there won't be any words. Also I really like birds and writing about birds lol

    So could you do something like that?
    Saigonnus, cak85 and Asher the Red like this.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Here's how I think of things. I find it helps me focus on what situations to put my characters in.

    The second act is divided into two parts. The first part, you make good on the promises you make to the reader about what type of story you're writing. If it's a road movie, the characters hit the road, got to interesting places, and meet interesting people. If your story promises your characters will be attending a magic school, this is where that experience is clearly shown. You do this while still advancing the plot.

    What type of story are you promising the reader? And what do you have to do in order to make good on them?

    Because it's supposed to lead to a key moment at the mid point of the story. At the end of the first part of act 2 is where you have the story's midpoint climax. Your character will either have a false victory or a false defeat. They seemingly get what they want or they get a huge beat down.

    The second part of act 2 jumps off of that midpoint climax. If it's a false victory, this is where the bad guys regroup and strike back. If it's a false defeat, this is where the hero regroups and recovers.

    Any ways, my 2 cents
    cak85 likes this.
  5. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

    Maybe create a minor character that is also heading in the same direction for part of the story who pops in and out of the picture from time to time. When they meet they talk about their experiences. The minor character offers advice about where to stay, who to meet or avoid and hazards.

    Perhaps the minor character could be the one who introduces the main character to one of the other core characters. Once the minor character has introduced the core character the minor character bids her farewell and heads off elsewhere because his/her/their destiny lies elsewhere.
  6. Stevie

    Stevie Scribe

    Maybe ask yourself the question "Why am I and my main character stuck? What would make it more interesting and un-stick it?"

    You might have already answered this in your post. You say you enjoy writing scenes where the MC interacts with others. In that case, a companion increases that interaction opportunity many times but it will change the story significantly, as the relationship between MC and companion grows. You could have a companion then kill them off early - this gives scope for some conflict for the MC and could spring board you on during the tricky middle.

    If going it alone, you could use internal dialogue with the MC to replace encounters and there's always the option of your MC revealling thier character to the reader through chance encounters with minor characters along the way.
  7. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    I like the idea of an animal companion. A dog perhaps. It would allow the MC to interact with it in ways, even talking to it.
  8. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    Perhaps have the act of her getting away from her friends be the focus in the beginning. She knows they will attempt to go with her so she leaves misdirection to keep them of her trail. You could go back and forth between what the MC thinks her friends are doing and what they actually do.
    Another option is that she keeps a journal. This allows you to have her inner thoughts or things she would have said to her friends come out. She could go through some of the comments or advice she thinks they would give at certain moments of her adventure.
    Adela and Saigonnus like this.
  9. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    It's easier to write something if your main character has someone or something to play off against. It's just easier to have a dialogue than to have an internal monologue or a character only walking around. Then again, there will probably be people around when your main character does something. The people your character interacts with don't need to be good friends or fully realised characters to function in this role.

    All 4 options mentioned are valid. All have been done in a succesful story somewhere. So it very much depends on your story. One thought I had about it is that it depends on the main kind of conflict you have for your main character. If you have mainly internal conflict, then you can benefit from someone or something to play off. Otherwise you will have a character stuck in his head for too long, which can become boring for readers.

    On the other hand, if you have mainly external conflict then it will matter a lot less. With external conflict you will have movement and action even without another character. Stuff will be happening even without sidekick. So you can get away with having the character be alone for large stretches of time.
  10. RoseScript

    RoseScript Dreamer

    I think this is really important. If you feel as though it's enjoyable to write these interactions, they're probably quite enjoyable to read/work with in the grand scheme of the plot, and going without them for awhile might be hard. Option 3 sounds exciting, especially if it may be someone like the potential love interest, as it could cause internal conflict with the MC.

    Some of the other options of an animal companion also may be interesting, as the MC isn't completely alone, yet is still going at the quest alone.
  11. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

    This is a tricky one.

    My editor was going through one of my short stories and commented that she was missing the MC's love interest - until she remembered that I'd set the story in the period before the MC and the love interest met. She said that the interactions between the two added a great deal to the stories and novels, BUT that stories where the MC was acting alone were also needed if I wanted to show some of the character development which led up to the MC and the love interest meeting and falling for one another.

    What my editor then went on to say was that interactions needn't neccesarily involve the MC at all. Sometimes, interactions between other minor characters can move the plot forwards as well as giving background information and helping to describe the setting. The MC can just be an observer, thinking their own thoughts, doing their own thing. My own experience is that sometimes these minor characters and their interactions can take on an importance far greater than I'd originally envisaged.

    So in answer to your question I'd follow your original outline and see where it takes you. You may find that any minor characters your MC happens to meet take on a life or role of their own as you write and the story develops.
  12. Adela

    Adela Minstrel

    My questions would be: are there any of these characters that your MC interacts with that you particularly like? Are they memorable? Do readers find any one of them more interesting than others? Do you enjoy writing them as much as the MC? If so, she needs to take that person with her. Or they could find out early and force their way along.
  13. Hawthorn

    Hawthorn Dreamer

    Thank you all for your excellent replies. I have taken what you've said on board, and had a good head scratch. In the end, I've ended up re-working a lot of the plot (the key to it all came to me while on a long walk in the countryside - one of the activities that often brings me my best ideas). It means having to scrap a lot of the 40,000 odd words I've written so far, but the end result will be much the better for it. My MC will now be embarking on her adventure with two of the other major characters, as the plot reworking means that this is now feasible! I am so, so much happier now with the story as a whole. Not only has my revisioning sorted this problem, but it fixed some other dodgy bits and scrapped some things I was feeling a bit uneasy about. Now to the writing...

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