Following on from the previous post, the other area that needs to be worked on in the second draft of No Time To Stand And Stare is that of the minor characters. At present, they are somewhat flat and dull, have no clear storyline of their own or definite purpose even being in the book. This is where we need to shape that up.
So, what I’m going to do here, before I begin the second draft, is list the minor characters and consider both their personal story and their impact on the novel. The aim being to bring them to life and make them count.
And here they are:
Jephthah and his dad: straight away, there’s a problem. I have no idea what the dad’s name is, nor anything else about him. He almost doesn’t exist in my head. Because of this, I’m going to remove him from the book. Done! Jeph, however, I’ll keep. As Neil’s best friend since school, but also the guy who owns the much bigger farm next door, it’d be good to create something of a jocular tension between them that runs through the whole narrative. Also, I’d like him to be more involved with Mrs Farley’s character as the guy organising the donkey ride at the fayre (which becomes the cow ride). Maybe he could join in the shoot with Sebastian and Neil? And maybe add him to the evening at the pub, being the cause for Neil leaving so Sebastian can chat with Donald. How about him dancing with Mrs Farley on the evening of the Fayre?
Mrs Farley: she pops up a couple of times as the woman organising the Village Fayre. I have a clear picture of her, but her role in the first draft is weak, so I want to extend her role as follows: Introduced near the first mention of the Fayre. She comes to check Neil has everything ready with the fireworks etc. Then later, she can be in the village shop being prim and proper. The scene with her and Jeph needs work – and should be followed up with her going back to take him up on the offer. Also, relaxing at the fayre would be good (dancing with Jeph?).
The Vicar: another character I quite like and who appears a fair bit, but doesn’t really do anything for the story, the vicar preaches on the Sunday, hosts the home brewing session, chats briefly with Sebastian about alcohol and the Bible, MCs at the village fayre and apparently shot a deer. I’d like him to having slightly more spiritual input in the book, and be a more human figure as Christians, especially vicars, are often painted in a poor light.
Sid & Harry: the two old boys in the pub do serve a couple of roles, both as a comic counterpart to Donald’s cynicism and as his advisors in the rebirth of the pub. Not sure I need to expand their presence in the book, but it’s worth noting it as a possibility while I’m going through this draft.
The residents of Steepleford: so minor are these characters, that they appear not so much as individuals, but am occasional part of the scenery, such as when Sebastian is at the Village Fayre. Most of the time, Steepleford seems to be all but deserted – a ghost village, if you will. This needs to be rectified by adding a few people in the outdoor scenes, in the shop, at the pub etc. Usually, I’d leave this to the third draft – the read through/descriptive draft – but I think it’s important enough to add here.
The Village Fayre: I’m probably stretching it adding this to the ‘minor characters’, but I do think of this event as a kind of character in its own right. Maybe. Meh. Anyway, the fayre is kind of the culmination/climax for most of the book’s characters, so I need to seed the village fayre from the outset, from Sebastian’s arrival at Steepleford seeing a sign. There are various things I’d like to incorporate in the fayre that are missing: shooting (vicar again? Sebastian winning again?), cow ride, hog roast (currently mentioned, but not properly described), dog show, milking a pretend udder, guess the weight of a turkey, children’s rides (in the evening).
General Tidy Up
Before I crack on with the second draft of NT2S&S, it’s worth mentioning one other thing I’ll be doing as I go through. As we’ve already seen, in this draft I will be tidying / strengthening plots and characters. We’ve already looked at major and minor characters and, at the same time, major plot lines. But I’ll also be working on the minor plot lines – the general consistency and continuity of places and events. For example, the layout of the driveway at the farmhouse changes slightly a couple of times, and Sebastian’s mobile phone, so important to him apparently, drops out of the plot for most of the week, unmentioned. These, and countless other niggles will also be ironed out in this second draft.
And so, we begin!
Or, I do, anyway…