Characters Unleashed

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I’m not gonna stick my neck out and say every writer has a secondary character who gets her own story, but I’ll bet many of us do encounter at least one.
I don’t think it’s something I do consciously, but I find that my characters tend to make their introduction in one story and worm their way into another.

Other than characters simply taking on a life of their own, I'm thinking that it might be a good way to drum up some reader interest. If the character is compelling, readers may be intrigued enough to follow her on her next adventure.

In my last post I talked about some female characters and their stories. I’ll share how they moved on from one to another.

Anya was a good friend to the main character in Hardware. Although Anya was a secondary character, her ornery nature led her to deal with her man problems in unorthodox ways. Let’s just say her choices landed her in trouble with the police. In her own novel, she gradually evolved. She still had a temper and a sharp tongue, but as the novel progressed she dealt with her challenges in a more sober way—well, except for the scene where she turned the tables on her attacker and taught him how dangerous a woman’s handbag can be.

Now her sister, Celeste, is right up there with the feistiest female character you can name. She made Anya’s life hell with her capers and her unkind words, and only after a dangerous situation sent her on the run did she slow down enough to realize what a problem child and a horror she had become. She chose to leave Jamaica and naturally, when I finished Anya’s story, Celeste demanded one of her own. I thought it would be fun to see what I could do with her while she morphed into a more considerate and responsible person.

Before Hardware, I wrote Contraband, and in that novel, Paul was the hero and Mark, the irresponsible younger cousin. He put Paul’s life at risk as he tried to get Mark to grow up and take responsibility for himself. As a result of his involvement with a band of gangster wanna be’s, Mark had to flee his home.

In his own novel, Mark meets Celeste in Cayman. During the writing of this novel, my fingers flew over the keyboard and my heart raced as they moved from one risky situation to another. And out of their encounter with the world of intellectual property theft, came Phillip, long lost twin brother to Paul. Phillip is now on my drawing board. And so it goes on…

In each novel I write, there is one person who stands a head taller than the others, has interesting quirks, and some unique characteristic that makes me want to send them on their personal crusade.

I don't doubt that my stories will continue birthing individuals who will insist on making themselves heard. I’ll bet you have some of those keeping your muse company and waiting for the opportunity to air their stories.


  1. This always happens to me, too! I used to let the pushy character take over the novel in progress, and I'd end up with a mess. Now I have to tell the push ones to wait their turn--they'll get their own book later.

  2. I've learned to do that as well, even if I do have some scenes already planned out for characters who don't yet have their own book.

  3. I love it when minor characters take on a life of their own and demand a bigger story. Thanks for another interesting post!

  4. yep, sometimes I'll create secondary characters and they just scream for their own story.

  5. Great post! I love secondary characters, and I especially love it when authors give them their own stories. I personally tend to buy all the books that relate to the community or family the author has created, so it's great for sales too.

  6. Great post!
    I also wanted to let you know I've nomiinated you for a stylish blogger award. you can pick up your award here

    Thanks for the great info!

  7. Thanks for stopping in guys.

    @ Lynda - that's part of what keeps us writing.

    @ Rula - got to agree with you there.

    @ Elizabeth - Thanks for the award.

  8. Couldn't agree with you more! Actually, sometimes, there's this pile of characters in my stories, all with deserving and interesting stories. But in the end, I have to pick the ones that are more interesting.

  9. That's how you know the ones you move on with - the ones who won't be silenced. :)

  10. Hi,

    Thanks ever so for dropping by my blog.

    I have to say I love it when one novel links to the next, especially if the previous MCs are featured as peripheral/secondary characters.

  11. Thanks for the visit, Francine. As you can tell, I too like stories that have somewhat of a common history and characters.


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