1. blinkstun
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    blinkstun Member

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    Keeping in touch with the original story

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by blinkstun, Apr 19, 2014.

    How important is it to create new associations with old characters in order for the reader not to forget about it - so that when 100 pages later when the character comes to play you don't have to introduce him/her all over again to be understood?
     
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  2. Augen Blick
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    Augen Blick Member

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    I'm glad you mentioned this. It will give me something to remember.
    I have let one of my main characters loose while I concentrate on the others. How she shuffles her way back in is not on the menu as yet. i imagined a scene where one character I mentioned at the very beginning of the first chapter, was re-introduced as a memory by the protagonist. I have yet to expand on that.
     
  3. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep in mind that while you need months to finish 100 pages, an average reader will take an evening to read them :) Also, an average reader will notice a character has been introduced and remember this (that is, an actual character, not a name mentioned in a throwaway line)
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly. Say I introduced a character named Robert who worked at a bakery the MC liked. A hundred pages later, the MC returns to the bakery and meets Robert. I wouldn't have to introduce him all over again, as the reader would remember who he was. If they don't, and while I'm not sure if that would be a sign that I didn't make Robert memorable enough, they could always flip back to refresh their memory.

    However, if you don't want your readers to go on a hunt to find when that character was first introduced, you could always sneak a reminder in by having the MC bring him up again.

    "Let's go talk to Robert, he's a friend of mine. Works at the local bakery," Harold said.

    Hope this helps! :D
     
  5. blinkstun
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    blinkstun Member

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    That's one technique.
     
  6. PaulGresham
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    PaulGresham Member

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    Yes, I remind the readers about minor characters who have appeared earlier in the story and I also remind them about the scenes in which they have appeared.
    Maybe something like 'The last time he saw Harry he was trying to fix his car.'
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've encountered this myself. My own novel is long, and some things get introduced near the beginning that MUST be remembered when they come into play at the end. Unfortunately I (deliberately) distracted the reader from the potential chicken coming home to roost for the bulk of the novel. I did this so well that ...when the chicken arrived, nobody remembered him! o_O

    I've sorted this problem in subsequent edits, but it was an eye-opener for me. Not only do people read at differing rates of speed, but they pick up different things when they read. If you're too casual when introducing a character, the reader may well dismiss him as unimportant.

    It's a tightrope act. If you constantly mention a minor character throughout your story, this will ensure that he's not forgotten ...but it also waters down any surprise element you may be constructing for his reappearance.

    I'd say the trick is to make his initial appearance as memorable as possible. Put in enough intrigue or detail that the reader will have him or his actions in the back of their mind as they read. Make him the kind of character that if you didn't bring him 'back,' your readers would say ...'but whatever happened to so-and-so?'

    The only way to learn if your technique works is to let some beta readers loose on your MS, once you've finished and done your first edit. If they forget a character and are puzzled when he returns, hopefully they'll let you know! Then just go back and strengthen the impact of his earlier appearance.
     
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  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adding to this, it can help to echo a detail when the character re-appears. Random example:

    "One part butterscotch schnapps, two parts seltzer, and a twist of lime," a voice bellowed at the other end of the bar.
    John closed his eyes. For God's sake. The last thing he needed today was to see George again.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If I wasn't already following you, I'd be following you!
     

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