Characters: Keeping Everyone in Play

smiley-1041796_1920I’m about fifty pages into my middle grade novel which is, I suspect, about 2/3 of the way through the plot.  As I move forward, I’m noticing a few issues.

I’m really good at keeping my main character busy.  She’s always on the go and keeps the plot moving forward.  Unfortunately, about 90% of the time she’s accompanied by her younger brother.  I’d love to say that I’m equally good at keeping him occupied but I’m not.  It’s as if he is in limbo when he isn’t needed for a discussion or to be the assistant in some escapade.

Characters who aren’t on-screen for four or five chapters?  I’ve love to say that I’ve given them a lot of thought but I haven’t.  In all truth, I haven’t given them a lot of thought.  Because of this, my guess is that they feel pretty insubstantial when they do appear “on-screen.”  How to solve this?

First things first, I’m going to finish this draft.  Once I’m done, I’m going to replot the story.  No, I’m not going to change the plot but I’m going to expand on it.  For one thing, I have to add a few scenes.  I’ve given my main character a trait that comes into play early on and again at the very end but in the middle is nowhere to be seen.  I’m going to have to do something about that.  But I’ve also given some thought to the kid brother.  I need a scene or two that shows him in contrast to his sister.

I’m also going to draw up timelines for the various characters in the story.  I need to know who is doing what when they aren’t “on camera.” This will give me a better feel for each of them.  Even if not all of this appears “on-screen,” it will add depth to the story.

What about your secondary characters?  Have you given them enough to do?  Do you know where they are and what they’re up to when they aren’t interacting with your main character?  If not, you may need to give it some thought.  Secondary characters, after all, are the stars of their own stories even if it isn’t the story you are telling.