So this week I am happily sitting writing a chapter. Then I go to re-read and realise that at the beginning of the chapter I’d put a very important character in the room at the beginning, then completely forgotten they were there by the end. They’re just left sitting there, doing nothing, like a chair.
I’ve done this before. I introduced one vital character at the beginning of a book, kept them there for half a book, then forgotten to put them in the rest of it.
It’s not like they’re forgettable characters. They’re very memorable. But the focus of the plot shifted away from them, and I forgot to take to them with me. So now I have big reminders everywhere – what happened to you-know-who.
These are the kind of things that can only be picked up in re-drafts. I know some authors don’t do them. Lee Child, for example, just writes straight through, in one draft, and never goes back and does any more. I wish I could do that. I average about five drafts before I’m sure everything’s picked up and every character gets their time.
Still, I am learning. And one thing I’ve learned is to stick a big poster with all my character names on the wall, so I remember they exist. (In my book, anyway)