Two days ago I was ready to kill off Kyra and Boston.
Wait, don’t panic. I’m a writer; I get to kill folks off.
However, eliminating my hero and heroine before page 100 was a bad IDEA for a romance novel. So, I preserved. Not because I wanted to . . . at times, I hate these characters. But I have a lot invested in them at this point. Fully-fleshed backstories, complicated family structures, unique character quirks and my hero and heroine actually do work quite well in this specific plot. Wow, it’s almost like I planned that *GRIN*.
So, if my main characters were well-developed, complete with appropriate Goal, Motivation and Conflict, and the plot was intricate and motivated, then what was I missing?
My writing seemed to be flapping like a hooked bass on the bottom of my daddy’s fishing boat. That caught fish may be going some where, but just not any place productive—like back in the water. That’s when I realized if my writing wasn’t going to gasp its last breath, I needed a new strategy.
I decided not to sit in the boat, but to dive right into the lake and swim around. I changed my prospective. In writing terms, I went back to the start of the book and READ. Not with an editor perched on my shoulder or my little red pen ready to mark, but to simply enjoy the overall view of the book, or the lake if you will. The major discovery of my swim was duplicate information: the dreaded ‘Already-said-that’ curse.
How had I managed to have so many characters say the same thing?
Simple: I’d baited too many hooks and dropped them in the water. I couldn’t keep up with what secondary character had said what, and more importantly, how each secondary character had progressed the plot.
I needed something to reel in my secondary characters and guarantee that I caught the right character for the right job. And it needed to be something simple. Hence, I birthed the Character Chart. Not very original for a title, but it gets the job done.
I list my:
1) Character’s Name
2) Crucial character description
3) Chapter number where secondary character is on page
AND MOST IMPORTANT:
4) What knowledge does this secondary character reveal to the main character (yep, my hero or heroine needs to learn something from this secondary character in order for this person to be breathing on page.)
Great writing is about great tightening. My goal is get through Trickle of Lies with as strong of a finished manuscript as possible.
Is there a specific writing technique, in dealing with secondary characters, that’s worked for you?