Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Those Pesky Secondary Characters

Have you ever wondered what authors do with those pesky characters that just won't stay in the background? You know the ones I mean--the best friend that has an opinion on everything, the buddy who is always there to back the hero or heroine up (and give them crap when they screw up), the couple who steal the attention in the one or two scenes they have in the whole book?

Well, I have to tell you, it's difficult to figure out what to do with them. On one hand, they grab the readers' attention and get them asking questions. On the other hand, they distract and annoy a writer when they'd really rather keep the story centered on someone else.

I know, I sound crazy, spouting off as if these figments of the imagination were actual people. Flesh and blood members of society that you could run into if you walked around the right corner. I have to tell you, to me they are real. I argue with them--reasoning is usually out of the question, especially when they're refusing to follow the plot outlined--LOL. I try to cajole them into staying on the path I've created, but they rarely listen. And boy, can they be stubborn!

When a friend and I were working on a book, years ago, we had one character who was downright rude about trying to steal the scenes he was in. Add to that his adamant requests for us to write his story had my friend and I so frustrated, we finally gave up and had him shot. We left him bleeding on a warehouse floor for about three months while we completed the other scenes necessary. Unfortunately, the pesky little bugger threatened to die on us if we didn't at least get him off the floor. Begrudgingly, we did. But, he did stop bugging us for attention after that.

Right now, I'm dealing with an even worse kind of secondary/extra character. The quiet one. This guy just will not give me any information. No matter how I ask, cajole, or try to tease the information out of him, he just relaxes into his chair at the Diablo Blanco Club and smiles at me. I only know a few things about him (and no, I won't tell you all--that would spoil the fun!), but I do know that he will eventually get his own book. But not yet.

So, here's my question for you all (don't I always have one for you?) Who were some of your favorite secondary characters in the books you've read? You know the ones you really, really want to know more about and hope they get their own book some day.

Mine are too many to count, but here are a few:
Cat from Laura London's Windflower
Andrew from Laura London's The Bad Baron's Daughter
Nicki from Linda Howard's Mackenzie series
Alex Stone from Cherry Adair's The Mercenary (whose story was finally released last year--yay!)

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