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mochachocolatta
February 28th, 2006, 11:51 PM
i have 8 main characters in my first book, out of which five are vital to the story.each one has an equally important role to play, and a past which is the ultimate deciding factor concerning his/her decisions. now they all meet up at some point in the story, but what i want to know is that should i elucidate on their histories right at the beginning of the story, incorporating it into various beginning chapters, or should i leave it for later, revealing only bits an pieces here and there ?? :confused:

whitesilkbreeze
March 1st, 2006, 12:29 AM
Wow, that's a tough decision.

Outlining everything at the beginning would make it clear, but it also might seem a bit boring. (This is what happened to Character A. This happened to B. This to C, and so on.)

Dropping bits here and there would probably make it more interesting, but it has the possibility of becoming confusing since there are so many characters. You'd have to be very careful the reader doesn't accidentally mix up Character A's history with Character D, for example.

Maybe you could have a general outline in the beginning chapters, and drop more significant details later on in the story. It's all up to you and what you feel most comfortable with, though.

Expendable
March 1st, 2006, 02:19 AM
It's important that you know the personal histories of your characters as is your story background - but not everything is going to make it in front of your readers. It's actually ok - they don't need to know everything.

Try just using what you need to bring the story across.

Later, if you get enough fans clamoring to know all the secret details, you can talk it over with your publisher. =^_^;=

-Ex.

James Barclay
March 1st, 2006, 03:25 AM
Welcome to the forums...

I would not drop too much information in up front. It is a temptation but readers will work out a great deal for themselves. Mystery is fascinating (as long as it doesn't become obliqueness for the sake of it).

Try to let your characters' decisions be informed by their pasts while not feeling the need to explain each one. It is a difficult balance to strike and takes care to achieve.

One liners can reveal masses while seeming like throwaway comments. '...like the day he'd seen the raiders come...' tells a mass about a past trauma without having to say anything else. It would be a reason why this character might be scared of horses, swords, angry shouting etc. Not a subtle example but you see what I mean.

Hope that helps.

NOM

mochachocolatta
March 1st, 2006, 05:06 AM
whitesilkbreeze, you're right, but the thing is that the five characters are from different races, so that makes it kind of hard for the reader to confuse their pasts.

thanks Expendable, i was thinking of something along the same lines and what i didnt mention was that this is the first book in a trilogy, so i suppose theres still plenty of time and space to reveal everything.

thanks NOM. But is it ok to use the flashback technique a couple of times?

Also, i've been experimenting with an orcish character. he's very very different from your usual blood-thirsty, rampaging orc. he's around thirty five years old (average lifespan for orcs being somewhere around 40, if i'm not wrong) and a bit of a scholar. now he's not a pure orc (if there's such a thing..) and has been an outcast amongst his own kind for as long as he can remember. does that sound interesting or should the brainy orc idea go for a toss?

James Barclay
March 1st, 2006, 07:00 AM
Of course it is... In the end you must use the techniques that work best for you and with which you are most comfortable. A character shaping event may not be able to be summed up in one line and then a flashback could be very useful. Or a dream sequence, maybe.

Anyway, best of luck with it.

NOM

Holbrook
March 1st, 2006, 01:10 PM
Not much I can add, but just to say when you meet someone for the first time you don't know anything about them, you learn over time. Try and make your characters the same, so by the end of the story the reader knows a lot about them, but not everything. Even if you know someone for years you don't know everything. ;)

pcarney
March 1st, 2006, 01:23 PM
I tend to constuct indepth backgrounds and histories for my main characters, even if I never reference this in the story. These things have an obvious, direct influence on how the character acts, thinks and reacts, talks and walks- everything. So I think its important to know, even if its not important to the story.

Expendable
March 2nd, 2006, 01:28 AM
Some of the best ones are the ones that seem out of character. A smart orc may not be as unique as you might think - but give it a try.

SKK
March 2nd, 2006, 01:55 AM
I tend to constuct indepth backgrounds and histories for my main characters, even if I never reference this in the story. These things have an obvious, direct influence on how the character acts, thinks and reacts, talks and walks- everything. So I think its important to know, even if its not important to the story.

That's excellent advice. My opinion is that the story itself can stagnate and become formulaic if its completely mapped out in advance, but the best way to write lines for a dynamic, unique character is to immerse yourself in his/her biography and have that written out first and foremost. You won't consciously think about that bio as you write, but having it solidified in your noodle allows you to really write for that character and give them their voice.