June 8, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch: Run, Forrest, Run

Welcome to this week's Tuesday Edit Crunch.
Sounds like a breakfast cereal made of old typewriter keys.

Tuesday Edit Crunch is an informative, fresh, and important part of this nutritious... blog...

You can't give people what they need, if you don't know who they are. -Susan Law Corpany
Imagine getting your first manuscript accepted, with a request for certain revisions. 1) Lose two of your characters with their subplot, and 2) bring up two minor characters out of obscurity.


But I was asked to try. The challenge? Making these two "rising" characters real without making them replicas of those I had cut. I had to transfer some plot responsibility onto this couple, make their weight in the story believable, and I realized after I revised the male character that he could be interchangeable with another minor male character, so I had to alter his personality... like Harvey Dent... only not.

Somewhere along this writing road I came across a character development worksheet. I took it and formed it to my own preferences. It has been fundamental in allowing me to write my characters, and though I use it for my main characters, in this case, I used it on my minor characters as well. It made a HUGE difference in the re-write.

Describe the following about your character:
What will he learn?:
What will her obstacles be?:
Why will the reader like him?:

Because these were minor characters, a lot of this information didn't come to light in the story, but it did come through in my characters' mannerisms, responses, humor, and dialogue, making them real.
Now, before I get too far into a new story, I stop and make a character development sheet for each character. Some things I know when I set out, and some things I learn from the characters as they form on the page. And if I know these people better than their mothers? That's when they climb out of the story and run with it. Like Forrest Gump.

That's when it's my favorite.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Tuesday Edit Crunch. If you'd like to feel celebrated, enter to win my contest HERE. Right now, your odds of winning are REALLY GOOD. It's a thank you to my followers!
And remember, watch out for the K's. They're especially crunchy.


Tamara Hart Heiner said...

that does sound like a cereal! and yikes! those are some major revision requests. How are you dealing with that? (I was told to cut two characters and I said, "we're going to have to negotiate here.")

Mary Gray said...

Great job accepting the revisions. Do you like your MS better? I'm going to steal your list for my characters. I still have two minor ones who're too much alike! Thanks, Krista!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

That worksheet is the most brilliant thing I've seen in a long time - thanks for sharing it with us. I am going to steal it now and run away laughing maniacally.

Krista said...

Tamara, it helped that I was already wondering about those characters, if they were likeable. I was even struggling to mention them in the sequel, but felt I had to. I thought they were necessary. Whereas the 2 lesser characters were very likeable, but had bit parts, though also necessary. Taking the request as a challenge, after I mulled it over, was a little exciting, because it gave me a chance to explore the possibilities. And yes, M., the ms is much better for it. And I happily deleted their mention in the sequel.
But you still have to follow your gut. With my current revisions (the sequel) I am finding compromises, but I think my editor saw how hard I was willing to work with them, and they trust me (a little) more with this one.
M., the list really helped define my characters!

Krista said...

Run, Kim, run! Ha ha!

Heather Moore said...

That is a challenge! But one you are definitely up to :)

MTeacress said...

What a handy list. I just copied it down in my never-leaves-my-side-notebook. Thanks for sharing. :)

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