1. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Donkey problems

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jonp, May 21, 2011.

    I know that part of the writing process includes cutting any extraneous elements to give the narrative a more cohesive feel, but there is one in particular I really do not want to lose.

    Early on in the book, my main character encounters a Donkey tied up outside a seemingly abandoned farm. She frees him and he accompanies her for a while. He's a silly little creature with lots of endearing mannerisms and a loveable personality, and since I'm writing a YA book I like having him there to offset some of the darker themes.

    Now the problem is what to do with him. He was originally a way for my characters to travel with more luggage than they themselves could carry, but recently I've just decided to drop talking about their luggage unless it's important to the plot (I get tired of writing what they do with their bags at every tavern, town, campsite etc so I just stopped mentioning it, letting the reader assume that they do something with them). Anyway, my character travelled to a town, had a little adventure in the town and then travelled to another town. I ended up leaving Donkey (yes, the donkey is called Donkey) at this town for a while, while my adventurers go off to continue the plot (because soon after they are in a town which is attacked, and I don't want to get bogged down with details of them going to save Donkey). Anyway, the next town turned out to take up roughly 1/3 of the book, all Donkey-free, but now they've left I'm left with the dangling plot thread of what to do with him. I've re-introduced him in a sort-of convenient way, but he no longer serves a purpose in the plot other than being a loveable pet and source of mild comic relief. And yet soon my characters are going to be in yet another situation where they cannot take Donkey with them, so he will end up left behind again.

    My only real options are either killing him off (which I would never do because it would be a major event when I'm already struggling to keep my book from being over long. Plus it would be really, really sad), or cutting him completely (which would pain me greatly because Donkey is beloved, both by the characters and those who have read my work). Thing is, right now he is baggage, a thing I have to mention every so often to show he still exists, but he also helps lift the mood of a character who has received some worrying news, so he serves some purpose.

    I'm rambling. Sorry.

    I guess another possibility is giving him his own storyline, say, finding a new home belonging to relatives of his old owners or something, but there's no real arc there.

    Any suggestions would be fantastic help. I'm sure most would advise I cut him out, but there may be another angle I can take which I cannot think of.
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Why can't he go? Maybe I'm missing something but why can't he go to these towns? If he's as cool as you say he is treat him like Lassie or something... take him with them. One thing though, while I guess I understand why he's probably called Donkey, I immediately thought of Shrek, and that's the donkey in my head now. Just so you know.
     
  3. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Well the first town he can't go to because it is attacked by an unknown force and the main characters only survive by hiding in an underground tomb while everyone on the surface is slaughtered, and the second time he can't accompany them is because they have to travel through a cave system which is not exactly donkey-friendly. I guess another problem is my chapters when they're actually travelling anywhere i.e. when they'd have need of Donkey, tend to be rather short, and most of the story is focussed on their time in towns.

    Also the Shrek thing has crossed my mind, but I think my Donkey is unique enough :)
     
  4. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    So, they know that everyone on the surface is going to be slaughtered in this upcoming town and have the forethought to leave Donkey somewhere else the first time? The cave system I'm following you on, but the first one, at least the way you're presenting it, sounds like a bit of a hole. (to me anyway).
     
  5. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    They did not know, but I knew. I also did not want them to take Donkey there because the town is a very dodgy place filled with criminals, pirates and mercenaries, and it would be out of character for them to leave him unattended (where I left him he was well looked after). Characterwise, they left Donkey because they thought he would be better off, rather than knowing what would happen in the near future.
     
  6. James Scarborough
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    James Scarborough Member

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    It sounds to me like you may be making a mountain out of a mole hill. Apparently Donkey is a minor character, important in the early part of your story, but who is no longer important.

    What would someone do in real life if they had been journeying with a pack animal, completed that portion of their journey, and no longer needed a pack animal? They'd sell him or give him away, wouldn't they? That's the natural and normal thing to do. Why make a big deal out of it. Just get rid of him with a few quick lines and get on with your story.
     
  7. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Jonp, I sense that you fell in love with the donkey and that you want a good future for him... You MC is obviously struggling what to do: he cannot leave Donkey behind, but he also cannot take him along. Conflict! Then, as a first shot, your character is to meet some girl/boy who is lonely and needs a companion. He leaves Donkey in this loving hands, good for both Donkey and the lonely child. The child can be given a trait or problem that is relieved (some illness, or being bullied, or smth) to leverage the emotions.
    HTH
     
  8. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    It is tough letting go of a character you've fallen in love with. Just remember that characters are just tools and not real. Break the spell by writing several scenes in which the character you've fallen for (Donkey in this case) where they are taken out of the story for good such as death scenes (I'm thinking Donkey being killed in the slaughter) or as Leonardo said. You can also come up with your own ideas for scenes that would remove Donkey from the story. Once you're comfortable with letting go, you can include a scene where Donkey exits stage left.
     

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