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  • Writer's pictureKristina Atkins

You Know What’s Hard?

Sure you do. Lots of things are hard! Wood, rocks, disguising yourself as Mickey Rooney. But the thing I’m thinking of is this: trying to add a character to 100+ pages of manuscript.


I’ve deleted characters before and that wasn’t hard, because you know why? Usually, if you need to delete a character, they’re not in the story much anyhow. And really, if you have to add a character, their storyline is probably already in there somewhere. That’s how it is with this character. Here’s the basic rundown: Audrey, my literary YA protag, is dealing with the consequences of EVENT A that happened before the book. EVENT A was caused by Ian, who was not in the book until recently. His sister, Trudy, was. At my most recent school residency, we workshopped a few chapters of the MS. and everyone said this, “Cut Trudy. Add Ian.” Brilliant idea! I loved it! I wrote it all over my notes in ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT WAS AMAZING FEEDBACK AND IT TOTES WILL CHANGE MY LIFE FOREVERRRR. Then, a few weeks later, I reviewed my notes and said, How the heck do I add a whole new character?

My first plan of attack in Operation: Incorporate Ian (whose name may change now that he’s actually making appearances and what not) was to re-read the entire manuscript thus far. As I read, I made notes of scenes that would be good to add him in. These were often scenes that included Trudy. DOWN WITH TRUDY, IN WITH IAN.

What next? It was reading a little clunky. So I started to add more hints of Ian. More Audrey thinking about Ian.

The result? So far, I think it’s working. I like the story more and find it more engaging. (We’ll see what my prof says in a few weeks.) And while it’s been hard, it hasn’t been as hard as I anticipated. Remember like five seconds ago when I said, “If you have to add a character, their storyline is probably already in there somewhere.” (We were so young back then…) This was so true of Ian. EVENT A and its consequences were previously one of the driving forces of the novel. One SL in a novel with a plethora of SLs. Now that I’ve added Ian, it’s become the main SL (which my story was lacking terribly… but more on that later!).

Now just to incorporate more tension with Audrey’s mom …

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