1. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,628
    Likes Received:
    1,723
    Location:
    Virginia, United States

    Character I'm not sure I need

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Nov 2, 2015.

    I'm over 60k words into my current WIP. I have five characters, but I'm starting to realize that one of them basically has no point. Ochen is the twin brother of Echo. Echo is pretty important. She's smart and nice and helps my MC a lot. But Ochen is the opposite. He's quiet, moody, doesn't really contribute to the group at all. And throughout my writing, I realize I'm mentioning him less and less.

    Part of me thinks I should just cut him out. What's the point of having a character that isn't really involved in the story? But another part of me wants to keep him. I've always seen him and Echo as a pair. When the story first came together, I immediately knew I wanted them. They are polar opposites. Echo has life magic, Ochen has death magic. Echo is friendly, Ochen is a loner. Echo is smart, Ochen is... well, Ochen is smart. He just doesn't give his knowledge as freely as Echo does.

    I'm planning a sequel to this story. And Ochen was going to be a big part of it later. His knowledge on death magic (he's the only major character with death magic) is going to be an important part of the story. But as of right now? He's pretty much useless.

    What do you do in situations like this? Make the character more important or just drop them?

    I could easily find a death magic user to incorporate later, if I need to cut Ochen out. I might even be able to keep Ochen, just not include him in the first book. Echo could be introduced alone, only mentioning she has a twin, then bring him in for the second book to be the death magic user guide.

    Suggestions?
     
  2. xanadu
    Offline

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cave of Ice
    Hard to say without knowing your story, but you do have options. You may be able to incorporate him into the current goings-on, depending on what his role is and what his purpose is. Ask yourself questions. If he doesn't contribute to the group, why not? Is he opposed to the hero? Can he serve as an obstacle in his own right?

    If he really does serve no purpose to the story, then maybe it does make sense to cut him. but if you're going to use him later, I'd recommend at least introducing him early and giving him a small part to play. That way, in the sequel, you can refer back to him and give some fanservice. It gives you a little more continuity than just pulling him out of thin air later.

    Don't keep things just because you like them. The common phrase is "kill your darlings," and I think it's an important point to keep in mind. If it doesn't provide a use, it's useless. Stories don't have room for useless things. That means either drop him or give him a use. A "use" is very open-ended. It sounds like he could potentially serve as a minor obstacle, but that's just the vibe I get from your post. At the very least, he could appear at some point to set up future (as in sequel) plot points. That's a use, too.

    Hopefully that was somewhat coherent :)
     
    Doctore and Lea`Brooks like this.
  3. Stephen Gazzard
    Offline

    Stephen Gazzard Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2014
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    9
    My suggestion would be finish your first draft with Ochen in there and see if he is able to make himself useful to the tale. You can always remove him or modify his role in an editing pass.

    I've got a few characters like that - I call them 'feelers' as I'm 'feeling out' if they contribute to the overarching plot. If not, then when I do my revision passes later, I'll just cut them out. I know it's work for me later, but I'm not good at telling if my ideas will work until I let them play out.
     
    xanadu and Lea`Brooks like this.
  4. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,628
    Likes Received:
    1,723
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    Thanks! Those suggestions are helpful.

    Actually, @xanadu, I started trying to explain his "use" to you, and it gave me an idea. lol I might actually be able to keep him, just modify his role. My MC Seren and Ochen are actually very similar. It's just that Ochen is more reserved and restrained than Seren. She's a hot-head, and I have several scenes where Ochen steps in to calm her down. At first, I may have just put him there to put him there. But now I'm realizing I could build on that. He could teach her to stop and think instead of just react, and teach her how to use her anger to her benefit. Interesting...

    @Stephen Gazzard that's a great idea. I've been working that way so far (leaving things in, planning on taking them out later) so it makes sense to do the same here. Hopefully his use will become clear before the end so I don't have to cut him (but if I do, it'll be easy enough to replace his scenes with someone else).
     
    xanadu likes this.
  5. xanadu
    Offline

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cave of Ice
    Glad I could help! It's always great when talking through a problem just sparks a new idea. Using a character as a tool for character development purposes is a perfectly legitimate reason to include said character. I think that's a good avenue to explore.

    I also agree with @Stephen Gazzard's suggestion. First drafts are bound to be full of things that need to be cut but haven't yet. No reason your character can't be one of them.
     
  6. Doctore
    Offline

    Doctore Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    34
    Ochen seems like the grumpy guy in tales who never wants to really be involved, but ends up doing so and helping the hero anyway. Then somewhere down the line mr grumpy finally excepts the hero as a friend and shows respect to them. He also sounds like the brooding badboy character that eventually falls in love with the heroine and wins her over by the end. Either way why on earth would you get rid of this guy??? He has potential to do many things, holy fuck! As far as the next installment goes, and if you still have trouble finding a place for him, I think you could have him stay mysterious, but give him some helpful purpose in this story. THEN, in the sequel the people will really get to know him! If nothing else you could play on the twin bond with his sister and create something there.
     
  7. KhalieLa
    Offline

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2015
    Messages:
    669
    Likes Received:
    390
    Location:
    United States
    You don't need all the characters all the time. Is there something else Ochen can be doing? Like visiting distant relations? Bring him in and out of the story as needed, and safely store him somewhere when you don't need him.

    I have multiple characters that I can put on ice and bring out later.
     
  8. Morgan Stelbas
    Offline

    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2015
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    44
    Location:
    Toronto area, Canada
    Since Ochen is a twin and needed later, maybe have them part ways for whatever reason, concentrate the story on Echo and bring Ochen back somehow whenever you need him.
    I think this was already said, so I apologize for repeating a comment.
    o_O
     
  9. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,628
    Likes Received:
    1,723
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    It's alright. :p It's a good idea.

    And actually, I just got to a chapter where the characters are trying to learn more about death magic users. This could be a great time to send Ochen out to get information from his other death user friends.


    Thanks everybody!
     
  10. Inks
    Offline

    Inks Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    655
    Likes Received:
    167
    Had similar thing with a major character of mine, present, but not active. A reserved, quite and passive character is not always a bad thing - they may be there as an emotional crutch at times, but they will typically give aid and try to help. Not every character is the type which will be selfless, confident and strong... not every character needs to be pivotal or important. Though do look for opportunities for growth and aid. Let the character be as they wish.
     

Share This Page