Thursday, January 31, 2013

Writing A Novel: Role Call

One of the concerns that I have with my work-in-progress novel is that it has too many characters. There are the two main characters; their family members ... and then everyone they deal with at college, including Sadie's suitemates, Griffin's teammates and their various new friends/romantic interests. So a lot of people are involved in this story!

BAND GEEK had many characters, too, since it took place in a high school, but the challenge with this novel is that it takes place in two environments: college and the characters' hometown (which, by the way, is also the fictional 'burb of Sequoia, NY where BAND GEEK is set). I suppose that I could have this book set only at college and just skip over school breaks and such, but I feel like I wouldn't be giving an accurate portrayal of someone's freshman year if I did that. When you attend a school that's away from home, as I did, it can be very jarring to go back and forth from one place to the other. Part of me was always glad to return home, back to my old room, homecooked food and old friends. But as time went on and i grew used to college life, those breaks at home became more difficult to deal with. All of a sudden, I was back under my parents' roof and had to follow their rules. In college, I was 18 going on 19 and got to be independent and act like an adult, but at home, I was still treated like a teenager. Many of my high school friends had changed, as well, so our reunions were a little awkward. And it was kind of lonely being back in my parents' big house when I'd grown used to having other students all around. Overall, it was a very confusing feeling and I felt as if I were torn between these two worlds. I want to show what that's like for my characters, as well.

This is why I have so many side characters. College just wouldn't be college without the other students. When you live in a dorm, they become your family -- even if you hate them -- and you're constantly meeting new people, even in senior year. Some of my best memories are when almost everyone from our floor (at least 20 of us, anyway) would go to the dining hall en masse, push a few large tables together and enjoy a huge family-style dinner. On my 20th birthday, we took our dinner party to TGIFridays, where everyone tied balloons to my chair -- and to me. Was I best buddies with all of these people? No, of course not. But even the acquaintances had an impact on my life.

I'm trying to edit down the number of characters and only keep the ones who are important to the story. But I'd still like to give as realistic a picture of college as possible.

Please read and review my first novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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