Have I created too many characters?

Toast of Brighton
Mo Fanning - The Toast of Brighton

Coming soon – you’d be mad to miss it!

There’s a big bright light at the end of my writing tunnel. I’m nearing the end of what feels like a cohesive draft of my next book. It’s far from the first draft. It’s far from the tenth. But it’s the first time I know it hangs together as a story. And I like the characters.

All that stands in my way is a party. As I prepare for it, I’ve noticed my worst habit is far from cured.

Six years sober Evie’s perfect life fell to pieces 80,000 words earlier. Since then, I’ve let her stumble through mangled dreams and dangled temptation supported by loyal friends. Sometimes she’s found solutions. Often not.

The big shiny party scene pulls together threads and distils ‘The Toast of Brighton’ into one key message.

The guest list

Back to the party. It’s a big event. Too big. The guest list is too long.

My worst writing habit is the need to create minor characters that serve no real purpose. They appear once or twice, but fail to drive the story.

I’m struggling to remember the name of Evie’s sister’s boyfriend. I’m certain her best friend Izzy’s mother had a name at one point, but I’ve used it so rarely, it could be anything. And then there’s the hair product-obsessed estate agent trying to sell the Beachcomber Cafe from under everyone. Did he need a line? Should he be there? Ever?

The struggle for me lies in showing the same economy of story I’ve learned to show with words. I could wrap this baby in 1000 words and move onto the final scenes that drag me across the finishing line. But that means culling the bit part actors.

The final edit

Most writers struggle to let go of their work. Even when we reach the point of hating our stories and characters, we know things could be better with a polish.

I’m ready for my closeup. My final edit.

Scattered story cushions will enjoy a decent plump. I will polish the underwritten scenes.

But it’s also time for an axe to fall.

And sadly, Evie’s sister will have to stay single. Izzy’s mother will be mute, and the little lad with hair gel … he can phone it in.

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