1. Chantal89
    Offline

    Chantal89 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Two Major Problems!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Chantal89, Oct 14, 2008.

    Side character overshadowing main character?

    Hey everyone! I'm Chantal and I've just started my first novel. (Well, I started in May, but I'm in the early stages of writing). Unfortnately, I'm already running into issues with my characters!

    The first major problem:


    One of my side charcaters is actually overshadowing the lead main one! The lead main character is the one that discovers the problem, but the issue is that the side charcter already has prior knowledge, but none of the other characters know. :confused: I'm really confused as to why the side charcter is now 'acting' like a main one! I hadn't even planned on it, the idea popped into my head during the early stages of writing. Has anyone else ever had this issue? Any tips? Is there something wrong with the main character? She has a lot of development, it's just that the side character is acting more like a main one b/c of her past. Should the side character become a main one or should they both be main characters?





    I should also mention that there are 5 characters, 2 of which are the ,main ones though I really beileve only one should be. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Scarlett_156
    Offline

    Scarlett_156 Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    193
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Colorado USA
    Here is what I would do if it was me writing this story:

    I would just go ahead and finish it the way I had it in my head, whether I liked what was happening or not. For me, getting the project to its stopping point is much more important than the secondary consideration of whether one character is acting up. The reason I do this involves me having a very hard time finishing a story if I start making "side trips".

    For example, with the story I entered in this week's contest, I had two man problems: First, I needed to keep it under 3,000 words (always a difficult task for me), and secondly I needed to work as quickly as I could because I had to train on a new account for my work.

    I just wrote the story out in one sitting, from beginning to end. I kept checking the word count as I went along and I knew it would go WAY over, but I just kept jamming to get it done as quickly as I could--finished from beginning to end, a complete story.

    It took me maybe two and a half hours, something like that.

    I did end up with about 3,500 words. Cutting 500 words out of that sucker was not easy, and when I was done I felt that I had a substandard product just because I'd had to edit so much out--and also I couldn't keep reading and re-reading it because I needed to work. (This company I just started working for was sending me IMs and emails the whole time, asking me if I was done with this or that piece of work that I was training on, lol.)

    So maybe another hour of editing and I finally had a decent story (in my own opinion, of course!) of just under 3,000 words.

    I'm going through this big song and dance about how I wrote this particular story so you can have an example of how I would solve the character problem that you are having.

    In my opinion--that's IN MY OPINION and of course it's just an opinion that you can choose to disregard--it's a better, more efficient use of your time and energy as a writer if you keep plugging and get the story written, rather than starting a complete rewrite from the beginning.

    If the story has completely lost all its flavor and interest for you, however--then maybe just roughing out how you want the rest of the story to go and then starting your rewrite. Having to start over from absolute scratch is not a fun thing, so you have a fairly important decision to make, if you can see what I'm sayin.

    In a nutshell--I would just finish it regardless. Then if I was going to do a complete rewrite to put this other character in the spotlight, I would at least have the whole story hashed out and it would be easier to see what needed to be changed.

    I hope this was helpful. yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  3. TheAdlerian
    Offline

    TheAdlerian Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    2
    Think of a cop or detective story, in that many of those main characters have little personality and are just there to witness and put together what other characters do. So, your character can be the same kind of witness and offer reflections on what goes on, or just be mystified and interested in their crazy situation.

    A reader of a book is just like that, they read piece together and are astounded by events and some readers will identify with an MC like that.
     
  4. AnonyMouse
    Offline

    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,227
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Just keep writing. Stories sometimes take a direction of their own and it's usually for the better.

    I'm a little disappointed my "main character" is getting overshadowed by his "sidekick." But as I write on, it isn't bothering me much. She has way more personality than him and is a lot more interesting to read and write about.

    Also, keep in mind that every character has a purpose and proper place. I know when things get really bad later on, my MC will step forward, because he's a fighter, whereas his accomplice is more of a people-person. She plays a bigger role in the beginning of the story when everyone is getting to know one another, but will be overshadowed when all hell breaks loose.
     
  5. Farseer
    Offline

    Farseer Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    A story will change as you write it; don't be afraid to let it change. Very, very rarely will any situation end up as it was originally "supposed" to. Writing is the same way. My current project is completely unrecognizable from its original conception. :)
     
  6. mutants vs. vampires
    Offline

    mutants vs. vampires Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    if i tell you, you will find me. and you aren't su
    well, the book i am writing now, none know the problem of the super-villian until like the fourth chapter, but the main character's best friend (who's a girl) knows that her sister disappeared mysteriously, and soon she figures out she's something else. I guess that's okay, because look at twilight by stephenie meyer (if you have read it.) jacob knows the secret of the cullens, and he tells bella. he doesn't really overshadow her, but he appears like...twice in the story, though.
     
  7. Etan Isar
    Offline

    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,183
    Likes Received:
    32


    This is a common problem for may writers, especially in fanfiction and fantasy. You might ask yourself why the character has the prior knowledge. Is it you the author intruding on the story? Is this person some mastermind, manipulating events? Is it the real main character finally asserting themselves? Are they both main charaters?

    I would say that this is something only you can truly resolve. But the above questions might help. Although I might disagree with Scarlet on the most efficient use of time, I definitely agree that you should let the story play out and then decide a course of action. Trying to force the issue could get you into trouble with the plot and characters.
     
  8. CommonGoods
    Offline

    CommonGoods Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    That small dark corner of your mind
    Life doesn't have main characters and side characters. It just has characters.

    Ok, I'll cut the crap. Because honoustly, I see your problem. I've had it myself a number of times, and I feel that the best way of handeling it is not handeling it at all. When writing a story in first-person, it's always a lot easier (the I-person is the main character, do'h), but with many other stories, things aren't so easy. Who is the main character of Lord of the Rings for example? Frodo? Aragorn? Gandalf? Answer; there is no main character, there are three major characters, but not one main character. Your novel may work the same way.

    However, if you want one character to stand out and make him feel like the main character, an easy solution would be varying who he travels with. as the story line progresses, characters may come and go, but if one character remains troughout the whole story, he will probably feel like the main character.

    Another solution is creating multiple story arcs, although this can be hard and confusing. For now, just keep writing, and don't worry about who feels as the main character.

    For more detailed feedback, please post a part of your story at the review centre, or mail me.
     
  9. Scarlett_156
    Offline

    Scarlett_156 Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    193
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Colorado USA
    Oh dear God. I said "man problems" instead of "main problems". :(
     
  10. CommonGoods
    Offline

    CommonGoods Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    That small dark corner of your mind
    Shush, go edit.
     
  11. Sephie913
    Offline

    Sephie913 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    In my book, my first chapter actually had more time with a secondary character than the MC for a while. That was awkward. I ended up inserting a section with the MC in it, to even things out a little. If you mean page wise, that's how I would fix it.

    If you mean that, with the tone of the story thus far, it seems to set up the other character as the main, you need to decide if that is a bad thing. most of my characters are closer to main characters than side characters, and so feel similar in depth and importance. It's fun to do, because it adds realism to the story, but sometimes hard to balance. if you prefer to keep one MC, you could always lead the reader a long, as though the side character is the main one. then you kill the side character off. sadistic, I know, but fun.
     
  12. Emerald
    Offline

    Emerald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Dublin
    All I have to say is: Captain Jack Sparrow was originally intended to be a side-kick/comic-relief/inconsequential character in Pirates of the Carribean, and he ended up becoming that movie...

    Trust your instincts. That's what separates good writers from great ones...
     

Share This Page