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Sunday, April 28, 2013

What to Keep and What to Cut: Mongolia Style

Writing The Tiger Queens has presented me with a new and unexpected quandary: too many characters

And I'm talking waaay too many characters. 

Granted, there was a fair bit of information on Theodora's family and friends from Procopius' The Secret History which allowed me to cherry pick which people I wanted to focus on. And we have fairly decent records from Hatshepsut's reign that filled in my character list quite nicely. 

However, there's this lovely little tome on Genghis Khan's reign (coincidentally, it too is called The Secret History), but it has a cast list that would make Proust shudder.* Genghis had a good-sized family, several wives, lots of kids, and even more enemies.

So now the quandary: Who to cut?

Let's just say that many characters this weekend have been assimilated. (I've tried to give them clean deaths). Many have been reabsorbed into other characters. At this point I'm not sure if I've got Borg or multi-headed hydras in my manuscript. 

*Proust's In Search of Lost Time has over 2,000 characters. I might have been exaggerating here, but you get the point.  


storyqueen said...

Resistance is futile.

(could not resist--haha!)


Stephanie Thornton said...

Shelley--You have no idea how much I want to throw this revision to the wind and sit down to a Borg-y episode of ST:TNG!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

As Laurie Halse Anderson said during revision--ink and guts all over the floor.
Good luck, my friend!

vbtremper said...

What an intriguing problem to have. Good luck with all those pesky real people clogging up your story!


Mark Noce said...

I get in the same quandary. Combinding characters works best for me. It helps make each remaining character more developed and interesting. For instance, if the hero has three cool uncles, combined them into a single uncle. Stuff like that:)