Every Character Counts

A lot of books have a mile long list of characters (Lord of the Rings, Homer, and anything Dickens comes to mind). It can be a pain for both a reader and a writer. I feel it especially taxing as a writer. Sometime I forget entirely about characters I created or I forget important details about them.

Which lately resulted in me resurrecting a character from the dead accidentally. That was embarrassing.

In Green Crows (my fantasy trilogy) I finally created a “cast list” to prevent any future confusing and awkward moments (such as forgetting a character’s death). I’ve always thought a little about what called “character folding” where you take previously different characters (two or more.) and blend them into one character, making the plot tighter.

Again, I want to mention Once Upon a Time.

Yes, we are still watching it. We are currently on season 3.

One thing that I have loved about it, is that every character counts. Every character is connected somehow. There’s almost nothing random. Every one knows somebody, past or present. (*spoilers*)
For example: Emma’s old boyfriend, Neil, is actually Rumpelstiltskin’s son. Neil’s new girlfriend knew Pinocchio and actually works for Peter Pan. The random guy that showed up in town is actually the little boy who’s father Regina killed, and is in league with Neil’s girlfriend.
Tinker Bell not only knows Hook, but knows Regina. The man that Tinker Bell wanted Regina to marry is actually Robin Hood, who etc. etc. etc.
It’s crazy. It’s amazing. And it makes for a lot of interesting (and problematic)  family trees.

I started me thinking about this for Green Crows. At the moment, I don’t think I want to use it to lessen the amount of characters (though it might come to that) but to add depth. It is so easy for side characters and their relationships with main characters to be underdeveloped.
I’ve already tried it actually. In the beginning of book two, Hugh runs into these Pirates/Poachers. In book three, another group of poachers runs them down to steal their horses (they’re a special kind of horse, okay?). Then I thought, why the heck should there be two different bands of poacher (pirates??)?.

So now they are the same ones. I mean, they were in the same country, traveling in the same direction, so it works.

Also, I find me-self wanting to talk like a pirate. Savvy?

~Alp out.



2 responses to “Every Character Counts”

  1. I’d never heard the term “character folding” but it makes so much sense! (Of course, I need something like “character splitting” because I never seem to make enough side people…) But I agree, having characters who are more enmeshed with each other adds depth, and reality! You can’t go anywhere without meeting friends of acquaintances, etc.


  2. so true about your last comment. I went to a dance workshop downtown a few days ago. Ran into two people I know. Didn’t think about it that way too, that is it like that in real life.


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