Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writers Road Recap: Great Ensemble, Strong MC

What are some of your favorite novels, shows, or movies that achieve this? #WritersRoad
My last WIP had an ensemble and a 1st POV MC. My 1st concern was how to intro each character. #WritersRoad
@AllisonDuke I always seem to end up loving the secondary characters more. Not always a good thing. #writersroad
@HeatherMcCorkle My current favorite ensemble cast is the #BigBangTheory...but they don't really have a "main" character #WritersRoad
I read some great advice from Save The Cat, that the hero doesn't constantly have to ask questions or second guess. #WritersRoad
@Chris_Ledbetter That can be tough with an ensemble. How do you feel about the outcome? #WritersRoad
@jbeemills Exactly! The key is equal love, which is a tough balance to strike. #WritersRoad
I read a really good resource on plotting that also talks about ensembles, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story. Great Stuff. #WritersRoad
@AllisonDuke Therein lies one way to do it, no MC, make them all MC's. #WritersRoad
I had one 2ndary character intro my MC to the other characters from afar while establishing relationship with 2ndary char. #WritersRoad
@EbonyMcKenna The role of the Companion. Ask questions and second guess The Doctor. #WritersRoad
#WritersRoad Ensure that every secondary and even tertiary character thinks he or she is the MC of his or her own story.
I also focused on no more than three chars per scene, and most times only two, even though other 2ndarys were never far off #WritersRoad
To piggy back on @wordymofo's comment... every char had their own beginning to end arc in the story #WritersRoad
It's important to keep in mind the role of each 2ndary character, even if you haven't fleshed them out as much as the MC...#WritersRoad
If you feel like your MC isn't as interesting as your ensemble, perhaps the story isn't being told by the right character. #WritersRoad
When you're in a scene, you know which lines to assign to each character, based on their roles. Helps the story write itself. #WritersRoad
Also important to manage *screen time* and ensure all 2ndarys are getting a near equal time. #WritersRoad
Avoid the Mary Sue issue by playing up ur chars flaws. No one is perfect in RL they shldnt be in fiction either #WritersRoad
Fail: Vampire Diaries, in my opinion. Elena isn't nearly as interesting as the ensemble to me. #WritersRoad
Re: secondary chars. Make sure they are there for a reason. Dont intro a char that does nothing #WritersRoad
Once again, one of my favorite authors, Patricia Veryan, does this REALLY well. I hate it that her books are out of print! #WritersRoad
Secondary characters shouldn't get as much page time as the leads. They can be there, but not calling the shots. #WritersRoad
The key to keeping the MC focus is to ensure they are the most interesting character. #WritersRoad
I give all of my char's a back story or depth BUT what ends up on the page for each depends on their role in the story #WritersRoad
@StacySorrells I think that's so important! Enriches the entire novel. #WritersRoad
@EbonyMcKenna I consider everyone in the *ensemble* that's not the MC, secondary. Everyone else=tertiary. #WritersRoad
I liken my *ensemble* strategy to that of The Avengers or the X-Men #WritersRoad
@DrivenByTatiana: A book can't stand on its own w/out a strong cast of secondary characters who have their own stories. #WritersRoad
Current WIP is an ensemble cast but the lead girl is definitely the leader of the pack, whether she likes it or not. #writersroad
Secondary characters are key to the MC's behavior. MC may act different w/family vs. friends, vs. crazy people, etc. #writersroad
But it's intentional so you focus on all the other characters and understand their drives. #WritersRoad
@EbonyMcKenna And enemies! (who are usually secondary characters, incidentally) #WritersRoad
Dont use secondary chars as a plot device. Ur reader will not appreciate it. #WritersRoad
When writing an ensemble cast, remember, every character must move the plot forward and be essential. #WritersRoad
@HeatherMcCorkle I agree! I start with the MC and grow the cast from him outward so that I'm left with what is essential #WritersRoad
Also, first Pirates of Caribbean was fun ensemble. Cap Jack and Will Turner were leads? #writersroad Then Eliz, Barbossa, Gov'nor & whotsit.
Here's the link to the Kindle ed of the book I mentioned earlier, where I learned about roles: amazon.com/Story-Can-Beat… #WritersRoad
It's very easy to write vapid chars. Make sure ur support cast is necessary & propels ur plot forward #WritersRoad
When writing, if you start losing interest in your MC, chances are the reader will too. #WritersRoad
@Nightveil I'm writing close 3rd and I can't bring myself to write scenes not from the MC's POV. I keep toying with the idea. #WritersRoad
@HeatherMcCorkle I ran into that problem. Changed the MC and found the story was more interesting. #WritersRoad
@AllisonDuke You should try it just for fun to get to know you're characters even if you don't use the material. #writersroad
We are never too old or too experienced to learn how to improve. Seek out those that will educate you. #editors #WritersRoad
To me the perfect novel is where an ensemble of characters are all equally interesting. #WritersRoad
@teetate: Each action should have a result. You don't want to bore your reader & u want everything advancing the plot. #WritersRoad
The tough part about writing an ensemble is making each character unique. #WritersRoad
Characters are people too. When in doubt, people watch. Use what you see to make your characters unique. #WritersRoad
Also, if the character is clearly not interesting, sometimes that's a clue they will die. Don't be too predictable. #startrek #writersroad
@Dirterazzi You can do it, but you have to be extremely careful not to hop between POVs in a scene. Annoys the reader. #WritersRoad
@Nightveil And few (if any) agents or publishing house editors will touch it. #WritersRoad #POVhopping


  1. That is a wonderful recap. The mention of playing up your character's flaws really is a great way to avoid the Mary Sue fail :-)

  2. Whew! Great info there. I'm wary of too many characters, as it tends to delude the connection the reader has with anyone individually. I think ensembles can be done, but they really have to be serialized with one or two leads and eventually spiraling into other's perspectives.


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