The character of Stephen gave me significant trouble throughout the various iterations of The Wanderer. He is of course a key character because without him there’s no story, but I had a great deal of difficulty getting to know him.
In early drafts I gave him his own viewpoint scenes. This process usually helps me figure out who a character is, even if ultimately I don’t keep the scenes from their viewpoint. But that didn’t help with Stephen. His viewpoint scenes seemed to consist mostly of him thinking infatuated thoughts about Lucinda. That didn’t seem very ruler-like to me (although maybe it is. I mean many powerful men are complete horn dogs).
But I wanted him to be slightly elevated from that, so I tried making him a little bookish and a little troubled, and then one day I finally understood that Stephen is not so much a character as he is an inciting incident.
I immediately removed his viewpoint scenes and just let the focus be on Lucinda—it’s her story, after all.
Reconceiving of Stephen as more plot device and less fully rounded character also opened up some possibilities for other characters to push Lucinda in different directions as you’ll see in the next book in the series, which is coming soon.