I think I figured out the ending. You know, so it doesn’t end too nicely. A bit more of a bang. Coming to this conclusion only worked because I let go of an element that I had been holding on to. The thing was, I’d changed the story so much that the ending I had no longer fit. The only way I could fix it was by changing the characters to work with what I had.
The characters are now my issue. I’ve deleted a bunch and moved the rest around to fill the holes left behind, but a lot of character is determined by the place they hold in the story.
For example, I had two secondary characters in the last version that were both the right hand of the protagonist, each in their own way. R was the voice of caution, the one to err towards safety. T was the one who took risks and got into trouble and forced the protagonist to keep up. And, in a way, T was the inciting incident.
Now however, I’ve moved K’s appearance a book ahead of his time and now he works as the inciting incident, even though he isn’t the risk-taker that T was. Which meant T’s role was no longer needed, but I still loved T’s character and she added more to the story later on than R did, so I moved T into R’s role and got rid of R. But even though T’s new background is different from what R’s used to be, T is in a position that conflicts with her original character, the original character that I loved enough to keep her in even when her role was eliminated.
Then there’s J. I moved J’s appearance from Book 2 to the very start of Book 1, and this move has also changed his history, which in turn has changed his character. His experiences and motivations are different, whereas before they were shallow and/or non-existent. But in making a more fleshed-out character, and with his completely new background and position in the story, it no longer makes sense for him to be mean like he used to be. But if he isn’t mean, which was originally his main role and character trait, then what is he? And so I found him also taking on parts of R’s old role and some of her characteristics as well, which leads to a problem: T and J, previously complete opposites, are both sounding and acting more and more like the old R, and so is my protagonist. In the absence of R, whose character I did not deem worthy for continuation, I have ended up with three characters more like R than their old selves.
Some of the other characters have been rearranged, but for the most part their roles have worked out. I ran into an issue where I had two characters very different from each other, and I didn’t know which to give Secret 1 to because each had good reasons for having the secret, but each also had good reasons to not have the secret. To remedy this, I brought in a new character, a mashup of two old characters I’d thrown away, with the traits I needed of both. But mashing traits is much easier than splitting a role. I really need to figure out how I’m going to manage that.