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07.12.2014

Black sails character, shoulder pain when pushing but not pulling - Within Minutes

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Starz has released a nine-minute inside look at upcoming drama Black Sails, which will blend historical figures and literary characters from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
Fantasy and Historical novels have something in common: they often have a large ensemble cast of at least a dozen main characters, with up to hundreds of secondary characters. Today I’d like to give a few pointers about writing a large cast of characters who are all in the same place and are forced to constantly interact.
Black Sails introduces us to a cast of 11 main characters and more than 30 (named) secondary characters.
The key here is to give each main character his own name, his own way of speaking, his own look (clothes), his own motivations (reasons to be in the story) and his own plotline or “story arc”. What can be helpful is writing an “ID card” for each character before or while you’re drafting: that way you can keep track of each detail and refer to the character’s card for consistency. In Black Sails, Eleanor Guthrie is one of the key characters, and she ticks all the above boxes: her speech, her clothes, her hairdos, her goals and her story arc are completely specific to her and she can’t be confused with any other character. The characters in Black Sails can roughly be put into 3 groups: one led by Captain James Flint, one led by Eleanor Guthrie and one led by Captain Charles Vane.
At the end of the first episode of Black Sails, I couldn’t tell you more than a couple of characters’ names.
Having a large cast of characters is a golden opportunity to introduce characters with diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, from different age groups, with various sexual orientations or with disabilities. With a large cast of characters, it’s important that each one is fully fleshed out, with qualities and flaws. My final advice when writing a large cast of characters is to remember to show them to the reader, not tell the reader about them.
In Black Sails, Long John Silver is a good example of a character we aren’t told much about.
This entry was posted in About writing and tagged Black Sails, characters, EM Castellan, fantasy writer, historical novel, large cast of characters, writing, writing tips.Bookmark the permalink. This is a wonderful overview of the show, and such good advice about composing a large cast of characters.


My only addition would be to mention the characters of Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham, who have already become one of my favorite TV couples of all time. Anne and Jack together are funny and loving in a way that’s perfectly suited to their characters. I’m currently writing a novel with three POV characters that spend a fair amount of time together, or at least in the same city. I suppose I should go back and read the second book of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, where he has three POV characters travelling with each other for the majority of the book. STARZ has released the official Black Sails trailer and some character previews in anticipation of the series premiere in January 2014. Shortly after San Diego Comic-Con last year, we brought you word of the upcoming STARZ series Black Sails.
Once a sailor, opportunity and individuality put Silver into direct conflict with Captain Flint as they become reluctant partners in their quest to take the Treasure Fleet. Eleanor's father is the black marketeer for all the pirates, and he has put his daughter in charge of all of his dealings. In fact, almost all the female characters are very poorly handled, which shouldn’t be a surprise, but is disappointing nonetheless. The only other character who might have some potential is that of the current antagonist, Charles Vane.
Although GoT does have a large ensemble cast, it circumnavigates some of the challenges of writing a large cast because all the main characters are in separate places. But these groups are a great way to introduce all the characters at the beginning: a reader or viewer can’t memorize the names of 20 characters in one chapter or one episode. I could, however, tell you that Captain Flint was the main lead character, that his goal was to find a Spanish treasure galleon, and that his crew consisted of a nice and wise quartermaster, a handsome first mate, and a clever cook with a secret.
In 8 episodes, these topics weren’t fully developed, but there’s room for some interesting characters’ development in the seasons to come. We need to understand who these characters are and to make up our mind about them through their actions, not because we’re told about them.


I think it’s a great example of giving the audience time to love the characters, both individually and as a couple. I tend to be okay writing a large cast of characters, but I find it difficult to decide who should get their POV chapters when. Zach McGowan, who plays Vane, was working as a chef in prestigious Los Angeles restaurants while acting part time when he was cast in Showtime's Shameless, which led him to Black Sails. For example, Max, the resourceful and clever prostitute, could have potentially been a really interesting and great character. Of the main characters, only one has potential, and he’s too busy being dark and mysterious at the moment. In the first couple of episodes he manages to kill a nice (elderly) secondary character, to punch Eleanor in the face and to beat up Max. I often find them acting too passively in another characters POV, or sometimes in their own.
They’re all pretty much stereotypes, and the few characters who might not be are just not given enough screentime. Flint is a character who could be so much more, if only the show takes the time to explore his character a little bit. The reason all these people can’t seem to agree or make up their mind is because these characters are complex enough that you can’t really love them or hate them.
Vane, her ex, just because he behaved for a few minutes despite years of evidence that he’s still an asshole), and her depth of character is nonexistent.



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