ACW

ACW

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bye, bye, main character! - by Fran Hill

Someone posted recently on Facebook: ‘Isn’t it wonderfully satisfying, killing characters off?’

This was in the context of writing crime novels. At least, I hope so, because otherwise the question hints at buried rages and suppressed aggressive urges to delight any Freudian psychoanalyst.

My book isn’t a crime novel, but the comment did make me wonder how my story would fare without some of its characters if I took them out, not in a contract killing fashion, but in an editing fashion. Do I have minor characters in there, doing very little but bulking out the plot, like superfluous foam padding in the shoulders of a jacket or bra, there for show more than anything of value?

Worse, is my main character so tedious/irritating/self-absorbed that even if I don’t kill her off, the readers will wish I had?

Now I’m depressing myself, so, to lighten the mood, let’s play a game. Put your feet up and keep a packet of Bourbons beside you. 

I’ve taken the main characters out of some classic books and mused on the resulting plotline. Guess the characters and books. For every one you guess, you may have a Bourbon.

1. In 1930s America, mice and puppies get on with their lives in peace.
2. Voldemort wears a puzzled expression.
3. Boat for sale (unused), suitable for three or more, plus large dog (optional).
4. Sancho Panza finds himself the unexpected star of various adventures.
5. Various corpses get to keep their body parts.
6. Rochester stares moodily into the fire a lot more.
7. Ishmael ends up fishing for skipjack tuna.
8. Instead of being used for nefarious transformational purposes, the salts get sprinkled on someone’s chips.
9. A rye field lies undisturbed.
10. A late 19th century portrait painter, without a cocky young rake to paint, embarks on a still life of some fruit.
11. Women in Whitby find other uses for garlic.
12. Various horses find their own way to Canterbury, un-entertained by lewd stories.
13. Max de Winter’s second wife can wear what she likes at parties without censure.
14. A lion and a wardrobe do what they can between them to create narrative tension.
15. Doctor Watson, bored, doles out remedies for the common cold and knee injuries.
16. A class of 1930s Edinburgh schoolgirls have a supply teacher and do worksheets on semi-colons.

That's the end of the quiz. If you ran out of Bourbons and had to start on another packet, you have done very well indeed. Take a bow. If you can get out of your chair, that is. 

I bought my daughter a calendar which gives a 'drawing' prompt each day. This was her invisible man.
Sorry the picture's blurred. Let's call that irony.





Fran Hill is a writer and teacher who lives in Warwickshire. You can find out more about her, and check out more of her humour on Fran's blog  You can also buy her first book from the blog. It's called 'Being Miss', is a story about a hapless teacher's day, and it will make you feel much better about your own frailties. Why not look at the reviews she has on Amazon? 




















21 comments:

  1. Brilliant, thanks Fran. Giggled especially at no 14! And something to ponder for when/if I embark on fiction.....

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    1. Thanks, Mandy. I'm glad it gave you a giggle.

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  2. Brilliant post. I really enjoyed it. It brightened up my morning.

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  4. Sorry about above, just testing my account. Very funny post Fran. Now what would happen if we removed the author from the book, would it still exist ... ?

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    1. There a whole literary theory about that, isn't there? - The Death of the Author - about the fact that once you've written a book, it's no longer your property and that it now belongs to readers and any interpretation they wish to put on it, despite what you intended. Also, I wonder how many of some famous authors' later books would have sold had they not been on the cover, mentioning no names - I wouldn't dream of it - but what about J K ROWLING?

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  5. Thanks, Fran - you really cheered me up this morning. I'm sure I've got a couple of characters I could do with "bumping off" - maybe you could set up in business and do it for me?

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    1. Why not bump them off temporarily with a powerful sleeping potion (say, something like Juliet took ...) and see if it makes any difference that they're away for a while? Pleased you like the post, Fiona.

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  6. This is a delight. 'Worksheets on semicolons' made me chuckle loudly.

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    1. Ah, well - as a teacher that one strikes a chord with me too! Thanks, Aggie.

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  7. I owe myself 11 bourbons. Number 14 was especially funny.

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    1. Enjoy your winnings! Yes, I like number 14 too. I even made mySELF laugh, writing that, which is the height of arrogance, I know.

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  8. I can see them now, Lucy, thinking ... 'Garlic chicken? .... prawn curry? .... beef chow mein? - so many CHOICES!'

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  9. My favourites were 2,11 and 15! Thank you - I had great fun reading this, Fran!

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    1. Thanks, Sheila. That was the aim!

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  10. Mine in number 13. What a great post and proof that you are an English teacher. You never fail to make me laugh out loud :)

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    1. Yes, I liked 13, too! Thanks, Debsy-baby.

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  11. Mine in number 13. What a great post and proof that you are an English teacher. You never fail to make me laugh out loud :)

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  12. I promised I'd post the answers to the quiz after a couple of days. Here they are!
    1. (Lennie in) Of Mice and Men. 2. (Harry Potter in) Harry Potter books. 3. (The three men in) Three Men in a Boat. 4. (Don Quixote in) Don Quixote. 5. (Dr Frankenstein in) Frankenstein. 6. (Jane Eyre in) Jane Eyre. 7. (The whale in) Moby Dick. 8. (Dr Jekyll in) Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. 9. (Holden Caulfield in) Catcher in the Rye. 10. (Dorian Gray in) The Picture of Dorian Gray. 11. (Count Dracula in) Dracula. 12. (All of the character in) The Canterbury Tales. 13. (Rebecca in) Rebecca. 14. (The Witch in) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 15. (Sherlock Holmes in) Sherlock Holmes stories. 16. (Miss Brodie in) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

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