Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Tidbits

Everything Matters

I was reading a writer-friend's story once (a year or two ago now, I would say), and came upon an interesting little scene. The heroine of this moody Victorian drama was waiting for her escort to pick her up at a certain train station when an unassuming older woman sidled beside her and won her confidence with sympathetic charm.

The heroine, lured into a feeling of trust, walked away with this woman and was very nearly kidnapped into a life of slavery in the slums of London.

What an exciting scene! And I complimented the writer on it  the next chance I got. But then, as we discussed the project further, I learned something rather disappointing . . .

That frightening would-be kidnapper wasn't figuring back into the story. Indeed, the whole event was nothing but a random episode of intrigue in an otherwise unrelated story.

So we come upon this week's Friday Tidbit. When you are crafting your novel, whether you are forming a compelling outline or writing seat-of-the-pants, you need to be certain the events taking place in your book matter!

If something as dramatic as a near-kidnapping takes place, that event will need to figure back into the story at some point. If you introduce a menacing character (or any character, really), that character needs to come around and feature in the story again.

Even in the case mentioned above, if the sinister woman wasn't going to return in the tale, the event of near-kidnapping would need to be followed up. It would need to have some profound effect on the heroine that would motivate her later decisions and actions. Much better still, of course, if the writer can bring that frightening woman and the danger she represents back directly!

Everything matters.

So tell me your thoughts? What's a storyline or character you might have introduced but then dropped? Any good ideas of how you might bring it back around to play an important role later on in your story? Or does it need to be cut entirely?

6 comments:

Lacee Hogg said...

This is something I love as a reader and a writer. As a reader, it's wonderful when an author reintroduces characters that you thought you saw the last of. It recreates a feeling of intimacy and familiarity that pulls you deeper into the story.
As a writer, I love trying to figure out how to use characters I already have introduced in later scenes. I think it creates a tighter storyline!

Galadriel said...

That's a very good point

Kessie said...

I'm chewing on an event like that in my next WIP. My assassin heroine is dispatched on her first hit, only to find it's a little kid. So she goes on the run rather than kill a kid. The story goes in other directions after that, but I'm wondering if the kid should come back into the story in a more meaningful fashion. (Except the kid is on Earth and most of the story takes place on another world called Tyrona.) Still pondering...

Victoria said...

Excellent tidbit, Anne Elisabeth! I will definitely keep this in mind. I hate finishing a book and then saying "The end? What happened to the mysterious girl who appeared in chapter 9? Did she ever find out who that ruby belonged to?", etc.

Grace Pringle said...

Pointless characters and/or events in books is one of my pet peeves! Did your friend ever work the kidnapping characters back in after you talked to her?

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

You know, I believe she ended up taking the entire event out and focused the story a new direction. Which was sad ... but for the best!