The Missing Character Crisis

Crisis averted. In the span of a week I stumbled in drafting my WIP, dove into crisis control, abandoned the story (temporarily), penned a novella, and returned to the WIP. Strangely, poor planning caused the problem, yet it was advance planning for a future project that saved me.


My present WIP, most recently named Stealing Light, tells the story of Vistanna Martavien and how she, among other things, comes to be one of the first students admitted to a school for gifted teens in Pannulus.

Map: CA Hawthorne

Map: CA Hawthorne

Okay, simple enough, and it was all going great, but as I neared the midpoint problems surfaced when circumstances regularly placed her alone far too often.

I was taught that it’s important if writing in Deep 3rd to have your POV character be alone as little as possible and I’ve found that’s true. It’s one of the reasons I use it. It keeps me from dwelling on introspection in 1st or launching into rambling narration in Distant 3rd.

Still, being stubborn, I ignored the problem at first and wrote nine scenes in her too often alone mode before I couldn’t take it anymore. The story had become a checklist of important moments—and it was boring me to death.

I went for a long walk, but deep inside I knew what the problem was, its solution, and the amount of work it’d require. The problem was omission.

Vistanna needed a friend, a best friend.

I’d broken one of my own rules (given to me by Ray Bradbury): Pour everything you have into the WIP, don’t hold anything back. I was holding back. In this instance, I was holding back the best friend.

The silly reason was because Vistanna’s best friend was planned for introduction later at the school when she’d be placed in a group of seven, each having a different gift (Seeker, Siren, Healer, Sylvan, Seer, Wane, Lumen).

One of those in the group would turn out to be her best friend—later, and after I’d written a novella for each of the other six.

Courtesy: Pixabay

Courtesy: Pixabay

This is where the advance planning comes in … I’d already jotted notes for each of those novellas. Some were more detailed than others, but one was far more detailed than the rest: the Siren.

I concluded I had no choice but to introduce the Siren early. The problem was how. The school wasn’t yet open and the house where Vistanna is staying is close to the school—and nothing else.

Yet again I’d solved my problem and didn’t know it. The answer was the youngest maid at the house (I merely had to make her a little younger than initially planned).

So, there I was in the middle of the story needing to introduce a Siren who mysteriously has ended up as a maid at the house. Sure. Fine. How in the world did that happen?

Enter the novella (ahead of schedule) and two days of frantic writing that turned out to be far easier than expected because the story was compelling. Over 10K later I had my story and tears of joy because I loved it.

So, those nine scenes that were wrong? I actually had to back up even farther to where the Siren (Ryleen) was initially mentioned and enhance her depictions a little. Soon I was to that ninth scene and the moment of truth. It was the point when Vistanna and Ryleen seriously interact.

Courtesy: Pixabay

Courtesy: Pixabay

There was the fear that after all that work that I’d put them together and—nothing. It was a touch awkward at first and then boom! it took off. They play off each other in more ways than I can describe, or planned. Sparks. Tears. Laughter. It’s all there.

I’m almost through those nine scenes and have already added a scene in the middle of them that Ryleen inspired. Adding her is causing the story to come to life again and causing Vistanna and Ryleen to grow.

I couldn’t ask for more than that.


One Reply to “The Missing Character Crisis”

  1. Pingback: The Missing Character Crisis | Christina Anne Hawthorne

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