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Introduction to Characters - Trilogy- Triple Edge

I know that a book must start with a big bang. The Trilogy I am writing has clusters of characters, maybe I have too many and I am thinking of merging. Somehow I wanted to introduce them up-front by illustrating what they were doing on the 9 November 1989 (the breaching of the Berlin Wall). They are re-visited throughout the Trilogy as their paths cross and fit into the 4-5 parallel stories. I've added comments to the descriptions. Of course, this may be a VERY BAD way to introduce a book. It follows the Prologue (posted elsewhere) and precedes the "In the beginning".  

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    • I read the first few of the memories and associations post, and while they are nicely written, interesting vignettes, scrolling down there are an awful lot of them. Are we talking maybe twenty characters. I'd suggest trying to think about this from the readers point of view. You know and love all your characters, but the reader doesn't yet, and you're asking them to come in and read this huge amount of information. There is no way I could possibly remember all these names and characters, and I personally lost interest and gave up after a few. 

      Remember, to get a reader interested they need to engage and therefore care about your characters and what is going to happen to them. I don't thing that is possible with so many. I think you maybe need to decide whose story you are telling and focus in on that/those characters.

      But they are just my thoughts and others may disagree. Hope it gives you some food for thought.

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      • Thanks for the comments, I think that is the way I will proceed. I may merge some characters and introduce these various elements during scenes (if at all necessary). 

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        • Having just read the 'In the Beginning' document I was intrigued by the plot. I also noticed the following that you wrote;

          “Comrade Pavlov, what kind of stuff are drinking?"

          Should that be;

          “Comrade Pavlov, what kind of stuff are 'you' drinking?"  

          But without the single quotes?

          Good first page by the way, lots of information neatly imparted without slowing the action, and enough skullduggery to prod the 'what's this?' cells in my brain.






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          • Many thanks for the comment.  No matter how many re-reads a typo always turns up!

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          • I love the title.

            But I too feel confused by so many characters right away. I would like to get more under the skin of Pavlov to begin with, spend a little more time filling him out.


            A few minor grammar issues:

            "entered the three-storey block removed his Ushanka-hat and knocked it against the bare damp wall of the stairwell and quickly climbed the six flights of stairs." one of the ands should go and a comma replace it....


            "Perestroika had polarised the country; the hardliners were wanting a return to what they viewed as the glorious years of Communism; those who saw opportunities for themselves; and others who prioritised the interests of Russia, the Motherland." Here the semicolons should be commas, I think.

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            • Many thanks. All of the comments are really helpful, and many pointed to the inner fears I have had over the past couple of months and especially after joining Jericho. A lot of work to be done on the 1600+ pages!!! Thanks again.

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            • Hello, I have been looking for writing software. I have downloaded a free trial for both ProWritingAid and SpinWriter9.0. They work well for me (so far!)  Anyone have any experience with either of these? I am especially fond of SpinWriter. Try it out and let me know what you think about it. I have mixed reviews. Thanks.

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              • I have been using Scrivener which I think is fantastic. However, as with other software, the input has to be of top quality. Since becoming a member of Jericho, followed all their masterclasses, I have appreciated the amount of work that has to be done to maximise its potential. This is from somebody who has written over 1600 pages, adding scenes, outlines of characters using Scrivener templates and now realise I have a hell of a lot of work to put things right. I agree that the software can be an immense help in organising, moving around but if the groundwork suggested by Jericho is not followed through.................?! Potential disaster. 

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              • Just compare the Scrivener character template with Jericho's Ultimate Character Builder and I think you will see what I'm trying to get at. 


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                • I also found the information very intensive, could it be in the form of a glossary of characters? then people could dive straight into what sounds like a great story 

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                  • Thanks, Barbara, somebody else had suggested the idea of a glossary of characters. This approach has been used in the past by authors dealing with many characters and complex plots, typically espionage and different nationalities. Thank you again for taking the time to comment.

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                  • One of my draft readers asked for exactly that. A glossary of characters and a word or two of description.  Everything was clear in my head but the reader was becoming confused.  Perhaps because my story needs three strands involving different characters in different places.  Providing a glossary made the reading much easier.


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                    • Thanks, Alan. It seems I am confronted with a similar situation. A trilogy, with four inter-twinned stories, spread over a number of years, and switches between locations. Thanks again.

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                    • Yes, a glossary — and perhaps a timeline and a map — very helpful when a story gets more complex.

                      Having just read your two docs above, I'd say as a reader, I'd prefer the notes in brackets to be in a glossary — perhaps with some details in the story itself where appropriate.

                      Very well written, great story! Congratulations!! I don't think your plot is too complex for it to work. There seem to be enough threads to weave the individual stories in and out of each other.

                      I love Scrivener but haven't used their 'character builder templates'. Are you recommending them, Roger. Not sure I understood your comment correctly...

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                      • Veronika! Many thanks for the encouragement. With respect to Scrivener and character templates, the point I was trying to make is that one should ideally make the effort of going through the Jericho 'ultimate character builder' process. I thought I knew my characters very well but having now used the Jericho method, I believe I have enriched my understanding and intimacy of their personality, concerns, habits, fears etc. The process takes time but I highly recommend trying it out. I have then attached the descriptions as PDF files to the Scrivener templates so that everything is in the same place. Have a great day. Roger

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                      • I agree Roger, the character builder is very helpful, as are many of the JW tools.

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                        • You obviously have an incredible historical understanding of the period. I agree that a glossary would help. I wanted clarification on this sentence:

                          "I introduced a selection industrial complex bosses to the ideas during their study visits. "

                          I felt the cold as I read it. Powerful

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                          • Roger, I haven't read any of the documents you've included above. However, this last post touches on a subject I've become somewhat familiar with from the other side: background/historical information that you need to convey in your work, to satisfy two audiences. These audiences are those who are as intimately familiar with the setting as you are, and those who haven't a clue. One needs to be shown that you truly know your stuff while the other needs to be engaged with the story, and the complex subtleties, without being info-dumped upon.

                            I can't tell you how this is done; only point to someone who does an exquisite job of it, writing historically-derived secondary-world fantasy: Guy Gavriel Kay. Maybe something of the technique of capturing the escence of this deep knowledge - which you have, and the reader needs to appreciate, if not understand the full complexity of - can be learned by reading some of his works.

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                            • Thanks very much for your comments. They reflect some of the feedback I've had from earlier drafts; namely an assumption that readers will be aware of the events leading up to the ending f the Cold War, Perestroika, Glasnost etc. Somehow, I want to bring through the amnesia or total lack of knowledge of what happened; and, above all, that it was not such a clear case of winners and losers. I'll take your advice concerning  Guy Gavriel Kay. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Very useful. 

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                              • Wow Roger! I think some of that exposition could go into the description in your novel. You are like reading an interesting history book with a plot :) I can feel the passion in your writing, even in your response. Thanks for the explanation.

                                Warmly,

                                Kelly

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