Character’s screen time through drafts

A few times, I found myself thinking about some characters in the story I am working on and how their role and “screen time” changed from where they began (in concept stages or first draft) to where they are now (fifth draft of #1) and how these changes affected their future. I guess that characters being relevant more or less than the original plan happens and it can happen that some character is crossed out completely, especially if he or she was a cameo appearance.

In this post, I’ll look on some of those cases from my own experience.

Case 1: He did not make it

This will be a short one. In the first draft, there was a character with placeholder name “Fangeas” or something like that. He was supposed to be the Order’s expert zoologist and eventually he was supposed to be mentioned in the backstory of how Darkwood Sr. (I am still not ready to share first names) got involved in his idea of combining the strength of wild horses with the obedience with domesticated ones. While this part of the story is still there, the only scene where Fangeas appeared was eventually removed in the third draft. He was supposed to have another cameo in the second book but changes in approach for that part meant the end of his chances to appear.

Case 2: Not so important anymore

The second case is an elven soldier that serves as recruitment officer and was originally supposed to discover the talents of Darkwood Jr. Eventually, he was to become the contact between Darkwood Jr. and the elven army. As I went on with concepts and eventually drafts, Darkwood Sr. became more important and most of this weight was shifted to him, making the Lt. just a side mention in the early book and a few cameos later, even though it is likely he’ll appear here and there through the story.

Case 3: Ahead of time

When I was in later concept stages (let’s say 1-2 years before the first draft), the Order was pretty much a small group of sidekicks to the Darkwoods, with the exception of the archmage (again, still not willing to share name even though his is a story for itself). In the first draft, most of the Order members had only nicknames, some of which were only replaced in the third or fourth draft. They were just supporting cast for which I had little backstory or plans, something that eventually changed and I am glad for that.

Among them is a young female mage with a talent for fire spells. She did not get much attention in the first drafts, but that changed later. As I worked on concept and timeline for the second book, I delved deeper into her talents and have some plans for her. Eventually, during the fifth draft of #1, I gave her more attention, though I can’t say much about what it is without spoilers.

Case 4: Rise from nothing

This touches a character that is close to Darkwood Jr. Originally, she was just a tool for his early development and once that was done, I had no plans for her. In fact, she was not a part of any of the concept stages, I made her up on the spot when I started writing the first draft. I had no idea what role she could play after that if any. Instead, she is to become one of the most important characters.

Case 5: Appear from nowhere

This one is quite a recent addition that is not even fully processed into the story and will be done during the next (last pre-beta) revision of #1. I was now going through the first draft of the second book (the original intention was to check continuity) and eventually decided that one character that was, so far, only known by the rank, will get a bit more detail and screen time.

When checking the later parts of #2 and thinking about continuity into #3, I decided to give that character a bit more attention (such as giving it a name, rank, and gender – none of which was mentioned before), mostly as preparation for #3. It’ll still be one of the smaller characters when it comes to “screen time” but I believe it’ll add a little bit more depth.

There are probably a few more I could mention but it would mean revealing details I am not yet ready to share, and probably could include spoilers as well. Anyway, that’s it from me for this time.

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