As I continue working on Apprentice Cat, I’ve begun noticing something interesting. In each scene there are the characters that are talking, acting, thinking or just hanging around, but they are there. I point them out as being there. Then there are characters who are there, but not there. These are what I’ve come to call “silent characters.”
Silent characters are those that are there in every scene, making the protagonist choose one pathway over another simply because he or she knows that is what the silent character would want them to do. Sometimes a character chooses to not do something because the silent character would want that character to do it. Regardless, the outcome is based on the silent character’s influence even though that character is not physically in the scene.
In Apprentice Cat the main character, Toby, is faced with decision after decision. (What character isn’t in a good story?) What he chooses to do or not do are often heavily influenced by what his parents, more specifically his mother, would want him to choose. After the initial chapters in which Toby’s mother is introduced, she is seldom physically in the important scenes that move the story along. However, she continues to silently shape Toby’s decisions, making her a very important character.
While your working on your next story, you may want to look a little closer. Perhaps you’ll find what I did, a silent character aiding you in molding a scene into what it will become on The Road to Writing.
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