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The arrival of an unforeseen character...

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ashor Olux, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. Ashor Olux

    Ashor Olux Acolyte

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    How do you all deal with the sudden "arrival" of an unforeseen character in your plot? In other words, have you had a significant character pop up in your mind that you didn't have a plan for? And how did he/she affect your entire story?
     
  2. It depends. Sometimes it's not an unexpected character but one I planned for who, in the limited role I envisioned for them, seems to be more interesting to me than others by the end. On those occasions, I've rewritten entire parts of the story to accommodate the shift.

    In one example, my MC's sister, who was supposed to be little more than a story detail in the opening chapters, ended up coming back to play a much larger role than I had anticipated by the end. Even though much of her story takes place off of the page, I felt I needed to go back and rework the first few chapters to allow her to be seen more by the reader. Then I changed a few of the small details through the middle to set up her reappearance. I think that's the usual way it works for me. I don't know that I have ever had a character appear out of the blue who I felt I needed to get into a story but, if that happened, I'd take a little side trip/detour first and write a few chapters to see where they might fit in. Knowing myself as well as I do, I'd also be wary of it being the lure of the shiny new, which is to say, a distraction, like an altogether new story idea, that rears itself when I'm muddled down in the midst of the slog that writing can sometimes feel like. :)
     
  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Troubadour

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    I had a character that didn't exist in the outline at all but popped into existence as I was writing (someone who teaches a POV his important skill) and another that was supposed to be pretty minor but ended up having a more hands-on role in the story (the high inquisitor). Both happened because of natural logical progression: Character A needs to learn this skill, but from who? They've never seen someone like A before, how would they feel about that? What can I use with this interaction to show more about the world and attitudes among different people?

    The nice thing about a first draft is that it's, well, a first draft. You can smooth things out and make it seem like that character was always supposed to be there in editing. As you're writing the first draft, make note of the things that you'll have to go back and work on (like how Maker had to fix earlier chapters to make the sister more of a character).
     
  4. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    It could be the character is spoken of before hand, thus their appearance is unexpected not their existence. It could be their appearance is explained due to them knowing about what is happening at the location, or passing by on their way somewhere else. Create a short back story of where the character was and what they were doing. This doesn't need to be in your story but it helps determine the mindset and purpose of the character.
     
  5. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    Yes, I'm not able to outline my stories at all, it just doesn't work for me. So what tends to happen is that some unexpected character arrives in the story as I'm writing and things go from there. Like real life really, and in that sense the way I write reflects life as I experience it. But the problem is that sometimes I have to stop and think how the story will develop and then end, otherwise it doesn't hang together.
     

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