That sounds vaguely dirty, doesn’t it? No? It’s just me then.
Continuing my undoubtedly erroneous assumption that you’re all fascinated by what I’m doing as I get to the end of Nita, I’ve been layering characters throughout the story. I write in acts, so Nita’s first act is Nita before she’s forced to accept the supernatural and meeting Nick, second act is Nita learning to deal with the supernatural and falling for Nick, third act is Nita trying to deal with all the crime, supernatural and otherwise, while Nick cycles through multiple identities, and fourth act is Nita harrowing Hell because she’s tired of this crap and she wants to save Nick (who saves himself, but still, good goal). Obviously, Nita is front and center in all the acts, as is Nick. However this book has more characters than a fruitcake has nuts, and sticking with the analogy, we want the nuts spread evenly throughout the cake, arcing merrily as they go.
So take Mort, for example.
Mort gets in the car in the first scene, stops by breakfast, then calls Nita later in the act to say, “Get to Motel Styx.” In Act Two, he goes out to the Nature Preserve and then has Chinese in the bar with the family. Then he disappears. For the rest of the book. I love Mort, but if you have a character who disappears, you do one of two things: cut him completely or figure out what he’s doing during the rest of the book and find out how that affects the plot. Mort’s going to find out that the woman he loves is a poisoner, so that’s going to have an impact. I need to layer Mort.
But there’s also Fenella. You don’t remember Fenella? I loved Fenella, she was the anti-Marvella at the Historical Society. But she only showed up in the first and second acts and although I had more planned for her, she was obviously inessential. Fenella is no longer in the book and the book does not miss her.
The team members–Jeo, Rab, Button, Max–are active throughout, but I still need to go back and look at just their scenes to make sure they make sense and arc. So one of the things I’m doing is starting at the beginning of the book and just searching for “Button.” Then I can read just her scenes and see how she changes and grows more confident. Same for all the others (although not all characters have to change). And then there are the romances. Button and Max have a traditional romcom romance, simple and snarky, so that’s fun and easy to arc. The other romances are mostly hinted at or sketched in briefly–I don’t need any more subplots–but I need to arc them in the background, too. And then we get to the antagonists . . .
So I’ve been searching for supporting character names to make sure they’re in all four acts, each with his or her own layer of characterization, doing things that are not only important to the plot but also important to their (admittedly minimal) character arcs.
My next search is for Joyce. Yes, I’m going to arc a cat. I’m a pro, I can do that.