Multiple Character Scenes

I think I know why writers block is rearing it's ugly head. I've hit a small snag. The chapter I am currently writing is a mess of characters all together. It's an ugly fight/meeting of sorts and I am just having such a hard time keeping my characters in line. Each one wants to be in the spotlight and have their actions on center stage. Each character feels they have something important to say and they will not be pushed to the sideline. I'm finding I am failing to get to the point because I am spending so much time on each character's involvement in the current event. Each character is demanding too much time and I'm a bit full of it so I have decided to ignore them all.

"If you can't play nice and share page time, then you won't play at all," I say in my meanest 'mommy voice'."Time out for all of you characters!!"

Clearly they haven't listened and I have not been able to get past this chapter.

So while I continue to leave them in time out, I'll pose the question to the internet void. How do you handle chapters/scenes that require all of your characters to meet in one place? How do you get them to all play nicely together?


MeganRebekah said...

My book had a MC but essentially revolves around six teenagers. Some scenes fly off my fingers with all the characters (they're all unique) but other scenes stump me.

Usually I find a way to get rid of a few characters.

Last night I was writing a sort of fight scene with all six characters and a potential threat. I mentioned the two girls were huddled together, crying and then dismissed them. The reader knows they're present, but they were non-essential.
I also established a clear leader during the fight (who was not my MC) so my characters didn't waste time bickering in the middle of a tense scene.
Finally, I grouped them together or paired them off. "Jane and John each went after a mutant alien. There were flying fists, squirts of blood and lots of groaning. Their distraction gave me a chance to sneak past the last remaining guard to find the treasure."
If John and Jane were both fighting, you don't need to focus on the movements of each person and by grouping them together I showed their fight and moved on.

I hope some of the helps! If you think of anything else that works for your multi character scenes, post the info!

Susan R. Mills said...

When you find the answer, let me know. I recently struggled with that exact issue. I was stuck in the third chapter of my second novel for the same reason--too many characters in a scene, all fighting for attention. I think I finally got through it, but I'm sure it's going to require quite a bit of editing later. I needed to move on, though.

Danyelle L. said...

I'm not sure. I write with multiple POVs, so it just works out. Somehow. :D

Matt said...

I was reading somewhere that the scene should be told from the point of view of the character with the most at stake in that scene. I agree with it up to a point.

For one, its tough when all of your main characters get together in an intense situation. They all have something to lose or they wouldn't be a main character, right?

Plus, I sometimes think its better to see things through a minor characters eyes, just to get an objective view of what's going on, they don't carry the baggage that my big characters do and can bring a fresh perspective on things.

With the novel I'm writing, I generally differ to the main character for the pov in each scene she's in. Although there is one big scene that I tell from one character's pov, then switch to the next when the action warrants it. I switch when another character's motivations or observations do something to make the story go forward. If the new pov is just another view of what's happening, it doesn't help my plot.

I make sure that the new pov is seperated as a new chapter, or clearly set apart, so as to not switch whenever I feel like it and confuse the reader. Once I switch, I stay with the new pov for some time. I hope that makes sense, the switch isn't random, it has to have a point.

So my answer? Don't know... no clue...

BJW said...

Good question and I wish I had an answer. I like your blog. Good name too! Good luck.

About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.