Forgetting Characters (editing while writing)

I’m in Chapter 35 of writing The Nameless Queen right now, and I realized that there’s a character that fell off the page around chapter 14ish. My issue is that I wanted to keep this character in the story—sort of as a resurfacing, underlying character—and I’m now in ch 35, and I haven’t written more than a fleeting line about him in the past twenty chapters. My bad.

I kept wanting to reintroduce said character, but it was never the right time.

Yet now the real bad guy is taking center stage, and I don’t want to try to pull in the forgotten character out of the dredges.

So, what’s the solution?

There are three options:

1. Carry on writing while pretending to have introduced the character.

In this version of events, anyone lucky enough to be reading your real time first draft will say, “Where did this random person come from?” Pat them on the shoulder, console them, explain your forgetfulness, and press on. Keep writing! Just don’t forget to add the character in when you go back and do an overview revision.

2. Go back and add the character in.

This offers you a break from churning out new material, and it lets you revisit the earlier days of your story. A lot of times, this helps us recapture what makes our characters special and it can reinvigorate the writing process. Oftentimes, people advise against revising while you write, because it can distract you from making progress and throw you in an endless loop of revising. However, if you’re far enough along (aka 80,000 words is where I’m at), then you might need the brief respite.

3. Forget about the character.

If you’ve let a character fall to the wayside, maybe it’s for the best. Maybe the character would hold you back or slow things down. Maybe the character isn’t really serving a purpose. Of course, that means you might still have to go back and give them a proper exit, but that can be the issue for revision later on.


5 thoughts on “Forgetting Characters (editing while writing)

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