Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A writer's dilemma

It's a good job I'm not god. Quite apart from all that miracle working and omnipotence stuff, I just can't handle being responsible for too many people at once. Take my latest WIP, for example. Cast of thousands. OK hundreds. Well, maybe one hundred. At a pinch.

I'm trying to tell everyone's tale over four generations to bring about the whole point of the narrative. For once I know how it's going to end and I'm not having to write it to find out. The thing is, only the direct line of descent is relevant to the story, but everyone has to have brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and they need to be woven in somehow. Some of them are easy. I've dismissed a few in just a couple of short paragraphs. But the bit I'm writing now - that's causing me trouble. One poor sod, who we'll call Percy because at the moment that's his name, has already suffered an industrial accident that made him move to a new place to live so he could meet his wife so he could have a son who lives in the right place at the right time. (Are you following that?)

He meets his wife alright and they have a really happy marriage until, well never mind that bit, you'll have to read the book when I'm done. But their happy marriage has resulted in several (in fact seven) children because - well it did, back in the 1930s. Only two of the children are relevant, so I've just had to write off (literally) another three. (There are still two more but I know what happens to them.) I simply couldn't think up enough tales to cover the remainder. So I threw in an air raid and got rid of them all with one stray bomb.

See what I mean about god? It's a good job he doesn't wipe us all out because he can't think what to do with us. Or maybe that was what World War II was actually all about.


Sandra Davies said...

One way of dealing with stray and/or superfluous characters is not to name them, but I am probably the last person to be helpful because my 30+ cast has been very much mis-handled and I am havng to re-write the first 120 pages to incorporate them into the narrative in a more gradual way.
How to differentiate between the about-to-be-murdered and the irrelevant-but-making-the-numbers-up is tricky.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Morning AJ - you did leave the whole day to write your novel .. if you'd been Evening AJ - then your cast list would be smaller ...

Crumbs poor characters being ditched here there and everywhere .. why were they born in the first place? - but that's too difficult to answer I expect!

Sounds like your time line must be fun - let alone your genealogy tree ...

Cheers Hilary