Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Cast of Characters

A crazy group if ever there was one
I actually liked her.  She was cute and bubbly and kept Edwin on his toes.  I had spent some time getting to know Regina Coldwell and she was an intriguing individual with strong viewpoints on life.  She was a great wife.  However, if Faith and Edwin were to explore their darker side, the wife had to go.  At first, because I had grown quite fond of her, I tried simply demoting her to girlfriend status.  Still, it wasn’t going to work and in Losing Faith, I had to keep Edwin single.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to use Regina in another story down the road.

It works that way in a writer’s world.  Some characters that you truly love just don’t fit with the story being told.  It works the opposite way, as well.  While working the revision of Reaping the Harvest, I needed a character to assist Rhychard in a few scenes.  In walked his best friend from high school, Trace Wheeler, a shaggy character who at thirty-two still lives with his widowed mother.  Furthermore, some characters who were to merely have bit parts wind up moving to the front of the show, becoming an integral part.  The hooker Rhychard saves in Reaping, Buttercup, becomes a crucial member of the cast and will even be in the sequel, The Lore Master.  What determines a character’s importance is the story that the author is trying to tell and how they will move the narrative forward.
It’s the same with the story you’re telling.  Oh, not the one you’re probably not writing, but the one you’re living.  Your life.  You’ve put a script together, goals and achievements you wish to accomplish, a destination for your journey’s end, and as the storyteller you get to choose the characters.  Some will have major parts - wife, husband, parents, children - while others will be secondary characters, such as friends, coworkers, and neighbors.  There will also be walk-ons, those people that appear for just a moment and then are never seen again.  Throughout the story there will be some changing of status as secondary characters become pivotal ones and move to center stage or insignificant and fade out, their part in your story done.  Each will provide the means to move your story forward, solving problems, adding conflict, or providing the comic relief.
Some you will choose while others choose you.

And some you will have to cut as I did Edwin’s wife, Regina.  It’s sad, but true and sometimes necessary.  They cease to move your story forward and, at times, may even be taking it in a direction you don’t want it to go.  These are hard choices.  I liked Regina.  She was a great character and cutting her from the novel was sad.  (Can you tell I get attached to my characters?)  Yet, she was a stumbling block to the main story.  Are there some in your life that are obstacles rather than bridges?  If so, it may be time to cut them from your story so that your own narrative can continue in the direction you wish it to proceed.

Some of these cuts sadden me.  I liked the characters.  They were interesting people who brightened my narrative for awhile.  However, our tales started to venture in different directions and to keep either from stagnating there had to be an “exit, stage left” added to our script.  Like Regina, I hope to see them in another story at some point and would welcome the reuniting of tales.

However, I’ll be honest and say that some characters that are cut are better off left that way as their absence makes the storyline stronger.  As parents we keep an eye out for the future criminals in our children’s lives, those people who will take our offspring down a path of destruction.  We try to surround them with positive, uplifting influences, which will impress upon them our own moral code of living.  The same is true in our own lives.  I want to surround my family with positive individuals and be rid of the idiots.  There is a standard we have set, and I won’t sink below it no matter what others are doing.  These cuts are the easiest, but may still have their difficulties.

I am lucky to have the greatest characters in my life, those friends and family members that fill the pages of my story.  They surround me with the love and support that encourages me to fulfill my dreams.  They also provide the comic relief that keeps me from taking this life too seriously.  Together we carry each other’s story into the future, laughing and, at times, crying, but always there for the other.

It’s your script, the story you want to tell with your life so that as you sit on that front porch in your rocking chair in your golden years, you’ll enjoy telling it over and over again.  It’s up to you to fill it with a cast of characters to keep you company in your memories.  So as you choose them make sure they are people who will always bring back a smile of fond remembrance and not a pang of regret.  Furthermore, make sure you’re a character others will want in their narrative.  After all, it’s always fun to be able to swap stories.  A good script will propel you forward, but it’s the characters that keep you reading. 

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