3 Days to NaNoWriMo 2013: Combining Roles

Two days to NaNoWriMo. I’m not panicking. Not yet, at least. Here’s another exercise from Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

Combining Roles

1. In two columns, list the following: (1) The names of all major, secondary, and minor characters. (2) The purpose of each in the story.

Character Purpose in story
Danielle Glasgow Protagonist
Ace Glasgow Support/Challenge protagonist
Dustin Olmstead Flesh out King’s Guard/Foil for Ian
Ian Olmstead Supports protagonist/Complication
Chris Guest Flesh out King’s Guard (Medical support)
Austin Woodward Complication
His Majesty Mycroft Woodward Special knowledge/Encourages protagonist
Her Majesty Karen Woodward Central to plot
Penelope Swift Antagonist
Anderson Swift Flesh out Swift family
Heather Swift Complication
Mercury Jackson Supports Antagonist/Complication

2. If you have ten or fewer characters, cross out the name of one. Delete him from the story. If you have more than ten characters, cross out the names of two.

Character Purpose in story
Danielle Glasgow Protagonist
Ace Glasgow Support/Challenge protagonist
Dustin Olmstead Flesh out King’s Guard/Foil for Ian
Ian Olmstead Supports protagonist/Complication
Chris Guest Flesh out King’s Guard (Medical support)
Austin Woodward Complication
His Majesty Mycroft Woodward Special knowledge/Encourages protagonist
Her Majesty Karen Woodward Central to plot
Penelope Swift Antagonist
Anderson Swift Flesh out Swift family
Heather Swift Complication
Mercury Jackson Supports Antagonist/Complication

3. Your cast list is now shorter by one or two, but there remain one or two functions to be served in the story. Assign those fuctions to one or more of the remaining characters.

Character Purpose in story
Danielle Glasgow Protagonist
Ace Glasgow Support/Challenge protagonist/Foil for Ian
Dustin Olmstead Flesh out King’s Guard/Foil for Ian
Ian Olmstead Supports protagonist/Complication
Chris Guest Flesh out King’s Guard (Medical support)
Austin Woodward Complication/Central to plot
His Majesty Mycroft Woodward Special knowledge/Encourages protagonist
Her Majesty Karen Woodward Central to plot
Penelope Swift Antagonist/Flesh out Swift Family
Anderson Swift Flesh out Swift family
Heather Swift Complication
Mercury Jackson Supports Antagonist/Complication

This exercise was really difficult. I’ve spent so much time with these characters and have always imagined them to be part of the plot. Heck, I can’t believe I crossed out Her Majesty Karen Woodward as her plot point was supposed to lead to revealing the antagonist. But maybe I can move that to Austin, making him an even more important character. I do like removing Ian’s father from the King’s Guard, adding stress of the unit being down a soldier, and allowing Ace to be Ian’s reminder of his father’s legacy. This gives Ace a bigger role apart from just serving as Dani’s foil and also shows the closeness of the families. I don’t know if I’ll keep these changes, but they’re growing on me.

Have you ever eliminated characters and then assigned their roles to others? How did it work out?

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