Thursday, March 15, 2012

Full Cast: Anarchy.

There is one problem with character-driven fiction. The problem is one that I imagine every president, king, Sheik, and Tzar would feel: that dilemma of ruling your people. Yes, you must let your characters develop and you can't rule them with an iron-fist--your book would feel stilted. But there is something rather anarchical about character-driven fiction.
Let me start by saying, my books are character-driven. I unashamedly admit it. Perhaps this style was born of an early love for all the great characters in literature: Anne Shirley, the Pevensies, Sara Crewe, Hans Brinker, the Moffats, and so many more. This love was followed up by a self-inflicted crash course in Dickens who--as we all know--has more characters than anyone knows what to do with. [The beauty in this, of course, is that they all manage to play important roles, but that's for another post.]
I suppose I began on this topic because of my good-humored frustration with all the people in The Scarlet-Gypsy Song. This book is already over 60k words and they will not clam up! :D I am finding more and more characters to follow and though I am keeping the book focused, they will all have their part. It's madness how these book-people simply leap onto the page and demand I do something with them. Would you like to hear a (nearly) exhaustive list of all these sorts? I will pretend that you do, and therefore I introduce the cast of The Scarlet-Gypsy Song. Enjoy.

The Macefields:

Mr. Adoniram Woolcott Macefield--an author
Mrs. Macefield--a nervous invalid
Bertram: a twin
Adelaide: another twin
Charlotte: second first-twin
Darby: second second-twin
Eugenie: third first-twin
Fergus: third second-twin.

~If that was confusing, just say it this way: There are 3 sets of twins. They seem to be a disease with me. ;)~

Men of Gildnoir:

Sir Randolph Fitz-Hughes--clan chieftain and self-styled "prince"
Diccon Quarry (Diccon Wanderlands)--Half-brother of Fitz-Hughes
Crimp--grubby fellow (body and mind) who stylizes himself Diccon's "chum"
Host of Soldiers--unnamed. :)
The former Chief of Gildnoir: Diccon's father--a cruel, unjust, but marvelous warring man.
The former Queen of Gildnoir: Diccon's mother--a bride stolen from her betrothed husband, King Octavian of Scarlettania.

People of Scarlettania:

King Octavian: The king of this realm
Lady Cecelia: The princess of Scarlettania--known to the Macefields as Cecily Woodruff
Lad: the court-jester
Dear-Heart: Lad's daughter--a dwarf-girl, and a chamber-maid
Agnes: Plump, pressing, efficient, petting castle-keeper
Windteeth: The highland pony that falls into Diccon's possession.
Captain Phillip Sparrow: Darby's ideal--a noble, valiant soldier
Peter Quickenhelm: A Benedict Arnold of the blackest dye.
Kingdomers: The fill-in-the-blanks people in the tale who make appearances at banquets, festivals, and the like, and who would make you feel a void if they were left out.

Miscellaneous Characters:

The Scarlet-Gypsy: A beautiful enchantress whose power is still felt through the work of her favorite...
Growlbeard: The favorite--a traitorous, black panther with the ability to change his voice.
Mr. Garrison: The Editor. A very important personage.

Yes. You read that correctly. A full two-dozen characters, each of which has a particular part to play. I make it a rule never to put in a character "just because." I mean, of course you must write a throng, but let at least one of the throng have a distinct face! :)
Some of these characters were not there from the beginning--particularly Phillip Sparrow and Peter Quickenhelm; one I have a growing love for, the other I was glad to surrender to his fate. Sadly, two more of these characters mentioned are slotted to die during The Battle. :'( But it must be done, and I am sure it will be for the best.
It is not easy writing a book driven by characters and keeping it on task. I will have loads of rewriting to do, I know, but I have been keeping rein on these book-people of mine and finally brought the 6 plot threads down to 4 by reconnoitering the various characters and making Alliances. Oh mercy. What a job it is to be an author! :)


Jenny Freitag said...

"Twins seem to be my lot in life."

I like this, Rachel. Up until now, I have had a confused, quilt-worked image of your characters. They would step forward one at a time, or two by two, but never altogether. Not on your blog, at least. I'm sure you do them better justice in your novel. And I definitely feel your pain when it comes to managing so many people. I think it is even harder for me to get a clear view of what is going on, at times, in Plenilune because I place myself in the role of the main character, so everything is a confused rush of people around her (and consequently myself) which seems to make sense, and would, if only we could get into the motions of the dance...

I may yoink this idea from you in the future. Stay tuned.

Anne-girl said...

Ditto what she said. Do you mind if we other writers steal and give cast lists? My love to the throng. P.S it is funny that you should talk about not letting your characters drive you when I am getting ready to write a book about how important it is to let your character make the decisions

ashley tahg said...

I feel your pain. Early on in my writing 'career', I drive my characters like a communist dictator. They did this, this, and then this, they did not add their own creativity to the story. In large, they werent people, just words. And you can imagine the outcome of such harshness. My writhing was worth not even the paper it was written on.

So, I set out to fix the problem. I started a novel called, 'The Key of Dlair'. I gave my characters a very loose reign, and bacically let them write the story. At first, all went peachy. Then, messes started popping up. Little Lord Kip wanted to overthrow his Father. And I couldn't let that happen. I needed Lord Argose to be in the plot. But, oh no, Kip fought my with everything he got, even his 'loyal' sidekick, Rea. Finally, I yanked Lord Argose out of the script. I had hoped that would make things return to normal. What a fool was I. Rae didn't want to be a sidekick anymore. She wanted to have Kip leave. Then, my MC, Tarine suddenly decided she didn't want to be sweet and mild tempered. Then Berry left, and Fredrick just disappeared. I still don't know where in the world he went to. All i had left was a rag tag group of fighting, bickering characters. Needless to say, I was very aggravated. I took the whole script, and threw it into the back of my desk, where I can't hear they're chatter. I have nt even looked at it since.

Joy said...

I definitely understand that struggle of having character anarchy, Rachel :), because my historical novel, The Crown of Life, has got a huge cast as well, and all of them sort of want to have their story told. That makes me feel so frustrated sometimes because I know I'm NOT a Tolkiens or Dickens who got into such detailed and realistic depths with all their varied and numerous characters. Still, I love characters, and I think that is what makes fiction so endearing to us, the characters themselves!

I love your cast of The Scarlet-Gypsy Song :), and the twin sets are hilarious! Are they all from the same family?

~Joy @

Morgan said...

Love it. Thanks for sharing and I can't wait to read more!:)