1. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Recycling a character from a previous (yet unpublished) novel

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Beth, Feb 2, 2013.

    Hi everyone,

    I've had this idea of recycling a character I've already used in a previous novel, she was a main character there, she would just appear in a shorter scene here, I would not name her, but you can tell it's her if you've read my previous work (which is for now unpublished, but I'm still hoping).
    The current story is totally different from the previous one, but still it's the same city and the real world, so it would be likely for her to appear (20 years younger).
    Something tells me it's okay to do this, but still I want to hear your opinion.

    Beth
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Sounds interesting. My friend dared me to use the name Walter in any and all of my writing pieces, and I have taken up that challenge, much to his amusement and mine. Sometimes it's fun to do things like that; it means thought has been put into it. I would suggest naming the character even in the short scene, as if you do end up publishing both pieces, fans will apprecate both the humour and the nod to previus works (at least, I would).

    Hope I helped. :)
     
  3. Lunatia
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    Lunatia Member

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    I think it's perfectly fine to do, some of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's films contain a character called Earl McGraw. If they can do it, so can you. :D I like to think of reusing characters as showing that the stories you write are all set in the same universe. It's fun that way.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Iris Johansen does this quite a lot. Major characters in one novel appear in the periphery in other novels, and vice versa. Randall Flagg is a Stephen King character who appears in several of his novels, with varying levels of importance.

    I would not personally do it unless I had a specific reason to connect the novels, though. Besides, I enjoy creating new characters.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've done the opposite - taken a minor character from one novel and used her as a major character in another. But I did it because I was also using the college where she taught.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can do so without it seeming out of place then why not?

    All of my stories are set in the real world and (so far) they only span across two countries. It makes sense in my stories that the casts may cross - especially as I've a habit of reusing a particular city. More commonly, I make references to other stories through objects. The two I use most are a certain film and a puppet.
     
  7. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    Yeah, its for the best you develop and use characters anytime you can, even if you give them different names, social background etc. And as you write more, you get more and more characters to count on.

    I can do right now only four types of male characters and like two females types, kind of. Which means they are really different from each other and have some kind of personality. I hope I will get ten or more by the time
     
  8. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Balzac's "Human Comedy"? Zola's Rougon-Macquart novels? ...love that whole "shared universe" idea...
     
  9. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    You wouldn't be the first person to include a major character from one story as a minor character in another. The important thing to remember is:

    A) They are MINOR characters. Don't do a Shatner and let them steal the scene whenever they're on stage.
    B) You can't take it for granted that the reader has seen their work of origin. Don't explain it, either: Bring them in, give as much info as needed, get the job done and shuffle them out.

    Terry Pratchett has several consistent characters throughout his Discworld series: Captain Vimes is my personal favourite who plays the central character in most of the crime stories and a minor character whenever another story involves people who run afoul of the law. Vime's personal history isn't brought into play when he's involved as a support character: He's just a cynical copper doing his job and that's all you need to know.
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I always have a Stan Lee-style character in every story i write on each of the two worlds i have created, that appears sometimes just with a single comment in a story and other times discussing with the main characters on either important or unimportant stuff. My girlfriend had asked me to write her in in every story and i said "I would rather write Stan Lee in", and it kinda stuck.
     
  11. Asaph Judea Wagner
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    Asaph Judea Wagner Member

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    One of my favorite anime did that. X/1999 had characters and flashbacks of events from another series that I forgot its name right now. They are all quite secondary if not tertiary. It won't hurt. It might makes people check the other work. Do what feels right.
     
  12. Nameless Wildflower
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    Nameless Wildflower Banned

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    I absolutely love the Idea of recycling characters! I have never thought of doing that before and now that you mention it I think of all the stories I have written and how a character from a previous story I have written can work in my new story. It make the story fun and fans of your work to feel more connected to your story because you are adding in someone familiar. Does that make sense? Well anyway it sounds like a great idea and I say go for it.
     
  13. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    I do this a lot. I remember reading subtle cameos of Stephen King characters popping up in other works of his, and I was hooked. In my Writer's Craft class, one of the girls has taken one of my characters and featured him in hers. Evidently, it's catching. Go for it.
     
  14. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do this quite a bit. A lot of times I'll use a character who never even made it into a novel. As long as the story itself is tight and complete, I see no issue with it. (In other words, new readers don't have to have read the story said character originally is from in order to understand the scene's purpose to your novel.) I like checking in on my characters and I think it helps connect my stories, which I like doing. I create plenty of new characters so I see no problem with having a character from another book have a cameo that helps my current main character along. Maybe only I will know it anyway, or just my select few original readers. I write for me first.
     

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