I’m replacing an entire character

In my last blog I wrote about writing a summary for a book submission.

And although it’s for a novel I’m still working on, it hasn’t stopped me considering how to pitch it to potential publishers. I’ve created a 500 word and a 300 word synopsis, and a 200 word summary, in line with what these publishers are asking.

When I stripped the plot bare in the 200 word version, I changed the ending. Not in a major way, but enough to make me see how the main plot should be resolved. This means rewriting some of the final chapter, but that’s not all I need to change.

Some of the notes for the original character, Piper. She is featured in the first three drafts of this novel.

A main character is about to be replaced.

In the previous three drafts, Piper is our villain. She creates a wedge between a close knit set of friends and is loosely based on someone we knew. While I’m pleased with how she has been fleshed out, she’s not right for this novel. I can do better.

Enter Jillian, my sassy villain.

This story is set during the gay rave party scene of 1990s, when Oxford Street clubs were never empty and huge dance events were staged almost every weekend in Sydney.

Piper’s motives haven’t always felt right in the initial drafts. She is out of place in the gay scene, so her infiltration of three gay friends and their favourite straight couple don’t ring as true as they should. That’s why a bolder replacement character makes sense.

Enter Gillian (now spelt as Jillian), a more interesting character than Piper.

There’s a ‘plain Jane’ quality to Piper who, because of her actions, would be dismissed quickly by these friends. Jillian, however, has reinvented herself, adding another layer to the plot. Her new wardrobe and hairstyle have been carefully chosen to appeal to those she’s trying to manipulate.

This is the advantage of taking time to write a novel.

When you lock your project away between drafts, it allows you to subconsciously solve problems in a way you can’t when you’re obsessively glued to your work. At times I felt Piper should be more like Alexis Carrington from the original version of Dynasty, but doing so would make it feel as if she wandered into the wrong novel.

The character outline I have for Jillian means she meets Joan Collins’ classic portrayal halfway, while still being true to the spirit of this story. She is the villain the reader will love to hate. In the current drafts, Piper is simply unlikable, and that’s not enough for this tale.

And with a pitch to potential publishers, adding a more assertive character will hopefully help.

Fingers crossed.

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