I was invited to do a guest blog post on Actin’ Up with Books and took the opportunity to write about “character recycling”, how I’ve been known to salvage good characters from less-that-perfect manuscripts of my past and try them out in a new setting because I just can’t leave them behind. Here’s the full article: http://actinupwithbooks.blogspot.com/
I have two dirty secrets. Sometimes I forget to recycle bottles and cans, and sometimes I recycle characters from past stories I’ve written. There’s no excuse for the bottles and cans, but I believe recycling a character can be a good thing.
It’s almost like an in-depth character study, a trial run. I’ve created a person, compiled quirks, traits, and preferences, then tried them out in a setting or scenario. I’ve had practice with that particular character and really liked them, but the story was sub par, and I hate to lose a good character just because I couldn’t come through on the manuscript. I’ve written about 10 manuscripts over the last 4 years, most of them unfinished junk, a few keepers, and so far, just one that’s made it through publication (with Untreed Reads), but I feel no shame in sharing with you that Nick Novaczek, the main character from my debut novel, Celia on the Run, was a shy but admirable kid that was originally from a novel I’ve since abandoned, which was called The Trampoline. The original story didn’t quite work, but the character did.
Armed with a great character, one I knew very very well from writing him all the way through a previous manuscript, I tried him out in a new setting, cast him opposite a wild and reckless beauty named Celia, and put them in a sorta stolen car on their way across the country for completely different reasons. Bingo! Nick was made to hopelessly crush on an ungrateful girl like Celia, he was meant to overcome his fears and jump off a bridge (among other things), and he was ready to come-of-age on the road trip of a lifetime.
Now that Nick Novaczek is out in the world in my first published novel, that’s it, I would never dream of recycling him. As for the countless other characters in my unfinished / unpublished work, they’re likely to get revamped, re-matched, and probably renamed before I’m done with them!