Friday, September 26, 2008

Secondary Characters

I like secondary characters. They're a nice cushion to the story for me. The only problem with a secondary character lies in ego. When he/she gets altogether too big for his/her literary britches, there must be a "Come to Jesus meeting."

Most secondary characters realize their importance in your story. They are content to listen to hero/heroine bitching-whining-moaning-sexual exploits. It's fun. Kinda like therapy. They do their thankless job and then mosey on back to whatever it is they do besides occupy a story.
But not ALL of them.
Every once in awhile, you have a secondary character that stands up and gives his/her version of the "I Have a Dream Speech."
"When you took on the responsibility to write a book, you were signing a promissary note to all characters herein. This note was a promise to all characters that we would be given certain unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of our own story arc. I have a dream that all characters are created equal. And I live in hope for the day that you finally find me Mr./Mrs. Right with a modicum of headaches."
If this character waits until my other story is almost finished or, I WISH, completely finished, then said character and I will sit down together and discuss business. If this character interrupts every scene I attempt to write by showboating and upstaging my main character(s), then there are issues.
What to do. What to do.
This can be tricky territory for a beginning writer. Or a writer with a series.
A beginning writer will spazz smooth out most times because...My God! Not only do you have one story to write, you now possibly have two. Simmer, JohnBoy. A beginning writer writes one story at a time. Start multi-tasking when everything else is smooth.
Series writers have a delicate operation to perform. Put secondary character(s) in the flow of the story without disrupting the main storyline. Tricky, my friends, tricky.
If you feel like you've veered off the main path and are now skipping down another trail holding hands with a secondary character while they bend your ear...GO BACK!!! Cease and desist. Shake free and RUN back to the main road.
You're the author. You don't get to meander.
Once again...LISTEN. It is honestly the best advice I can give any writer.
If Mr. SnappyPants continually butts into your writing flow and whines about his own story, set him straight. If he's really an annoying ass, jot down basics but do NOT push your main story aside.
Characters are pushy.
Sometimes ya gotta break out the whip and the chair.
Of course, with some of my books, they kinda like it.

1 comment:

Rene said...

I'm pretty strict with my secondary characters. I know in advance if they have a story in them or if they are only there as a device.

I think your right. We are the authors, our stories are under our control and we have no excuse in letting the charaters get away from us.