Thursday, September 30, 2010

Everybody this is...

In a continuation from last Friday's compelling characters blogfest, I thought I'd expand a little more on something that has taken me a while to learn.

Introducing too many characters too soon.

Lots of times my soccer team is short players, so we call people from other teams to come sub for us. They usually arrive at the field an apprehensive face as they scan the groups of people looking for the team of strangers they're going to play with. Sometimes they know one or two people on the team, sometimes they don't know anyone.

After they get ready and put on a jersey, we introduce them to the team.

"Everyone, this is Victoria."

Then I introduce everyone to Victoria. It's hard to remember 12 names, especially when they're all wearing the same jersey and have ponytails. To make it even harder, put them on a field and see how well they do at remembering names when they're trying to kick a ball.

The same can be said when introducing characters. Sure you, as the author, knows who everyone is, but the reader is like the new player coming to the team. If you through a bunch of names at them, mixed in with action, they'll have a hard time keeping it all straight.

Take a look at your first chapter and get rid of everyone whose not vital to the plot. I did this and I have to say, my first chapter is much better.

For those who are keeping track of your writing, remember Friday's the last day. I know I plan on picking it up tomorrow, but that's more because I don't work.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.


Misha said...

Good post!

I have to be especially careful about this, since I have five main characters that all play a role. Then there are supporting characters thrown in.

If I introduce too many at the same time, things will become very confusing very quickly.

Have a great weekend!


Carolyn V. said...

Ugh! I have such a hard time reading books that have too many characters in the first chapter. I can't figure out who is who! Great post Patti! Have a great weekend.

paulgreci said...

It's very true. That's one of the reasons I'll put a book down after a few pages.

Susan R. Mills said...

Yes, so true. I agree with Paul. It's one reason I'll put a book down.

lotusgirl said...

Great advice. I need to go through and take out even more people. I've been systematically eliminating those who don't matter, but there are still a couple incidents.

Patti Lacy said...

This is a wonderful post. Think I did this in one of my books (not tellin' which!!!)

Sigh. Will we EVER quit learining?