January 25, 2024 Post

Welcome back to another chapter of my so-called writing life. I want to begin this week by fulfilling a promise from my last post. I said I’d update you on my exhaustive research. Here’s what I learned:

As I plowed through the first draft of Questionable Characters (my first novel), I struggled with a question. OK—I struggled with a lot of questions, but one that nagged at me throughout was the issue of having a single protagonist versus making it an ensemble, featuring a cast of characters that each gets approximately the same amount of screen time (as we like to say in the movie biz). My gut was telling me that I really like the ensemble concept even though I know it is definitely considered more problematic commercially. I also recognized that as I told my story, it clearly featured one main character with a (hopefully) interesting cast of cohorts and foils.

I asked you to weigh in on which you preferred and the clear winner was a story featuring a clearly identified protagonist surrounded by a cast of great characters orbiting the star. You provided lots of great examples supporting your opinions. Interestingly, two people cited the same series (Michael Connelly’s Bosch) as an example of this. Being a fan of the TV show, I completely agree.

After reading all of your comments (which, by the way, I greatly appreciated), I came to the realization that it can be a bit messy when it comes to differentiating between the two models sometimes. A protagonist in one book might take a back seat to another character in a different story. Then again, if that happens, is it really an ensemble rather than a single-protagonist series? See what I mean? Hey, based on what I saw from your thoughtful comments and what my gut tells me, it can all work as long as the story has characters the reader enjoys following. Now all I have to do is deliver on that. Easy peasy—or not.

Last point on Questionable Characters…after resisting the urge to crack into the story that I lived and breathed every day in November and December, I will revisit it next week when I start the rewrite process. It will begin with me creating an outline of everything I wrote—all 104,000 words. Not saying I’m scared to see what kind of monstrosity I created, but I’d appreciate it if you’ll keep sharp objects away from me.

All right, this was more than I intended to write on the subject, so let’s jump into the Story of the Week (prompt supplied by Sue Neighbors).

         When His Search Hit the Paws Button

The old friends met in front of the gym.

“Hey, stranger,” Ryan said. “Haven’t see you in months.”

“True. Last time I saw you, you were scouring every pet store and shelter around,” Maxine said.

Ryan laughed. “Right. I got Rocky, a Great Dane.Way too big for the apartment. Then I found Bubbles, a Yorkie. Cute, but so small I almost stepped on her. Eventually, I discovered Isabella.”

“Don’t tell me. You went from dog too big, to dog too small, to dog just right.”

“Almost. Isabella owns a pet store. I married her. Still looking for the perfect dog.”

Prompt: Goldilocks backdrop

Once again, my sincere thanks for those of you who weighed in on my ensemble/protagonist question, and of course, thanks for being here.

Scotty out

PS—Next week I’ll update you on a publishing victory as I continue to push boulders uphill.

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