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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Importance of Secondary Characters

While writing the first book in my Legends and Lovers series, one of the opening scenes for The Treasure Hunter's Lady was the hero, Abel, being confronted by a fortuneteller. She correctly predicts that his life is in danger and that a beautiful woman will change his life. This particular fortuneteller is spot on with her predictions. I didn't know it at the time, but she'd have an even bigger roll to play when I did a second draft of the manuscript. She revealed herself to be a Native American woman named Hummingbird.

Being a pantser, I didn't expect Hummingbird to show up again at one of the black moments or reveal herself to be more than a simple woman. Legends and Lovers is steeped in mystical creatures. In The Treasure Hunter's Lady there's a giant serpent, in The Sky Pirate's Wife our hero and heroine are under attack from shape-shifting eagles. Guess who shows up again in The Sky Pirate's Wife? I wanted to tie The Treasure Hunter's Lady and The Sky Pirate's Wife together in another way besides both plots being based on legend. So I thought introducing Hummingbird and her quiet, peace promoting ways would do the trick.

In the first book, Hummingbird appears in the guise as an ancient fortuneteller, other times as an old native woman. In the second book, she shows up as a young woman not much older than Sophie. When Sophie does a favor for Hummingbird, she bestows a blessing on Van Buren.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hecate_Chiaramonti_Inv1922.jpg
In Roman mythology, there's a story about a goddess with three faces (Hecate) who ruled over the earth, sea, and sky. I've modified Hecate a little for my own purposes. She's Mother Sun and watches over the warriors destined to help defeat evil in my books. In the morning she's young, in the afternoon she's middle-aged and at night she's old before being reborn when the sun rises. I recently finished the first draft of the third book in the series. Yup, Hummingbird shows up again as a middle-aged woman who has the ability to foretell the future. In some way, she's always a comfort to my characters. She's changed her name along with her appearance, but there are very obvious clues about her true identity.

Secondary characters also inspire me because I didn't actually intend to write a series. I finished The Treasure Hunter's Lady as a novella, not really knowing what to do with it. A couple of my critique partners suggested write another steampunk romance novel. Van Buren whispered in my ear that he'd like to star in the next one. From there the series was born. A character from The Sky Pirate's Wife is the hero of the rough draft The Turncoat's Temptress.

And I have every intention of taking one of the female secondary characters from that one and writing another. I just have to work in how Hummingbird takes her place there. Who knows, maybe I'll round it all off with a story all Hummingbird's own.

I love my secondary characters because they're there to help out my main cast. How are yours helping your stories?


When I'm not blogging at Starbound Lovers, you can find me at Have Novel, Will Edit, on Facebook, Twitter, and occasionally on G+.

4 comments:

Elysa said...

Secondary characters are so much fun to write and read. After dealing with the hero and heroine, a secondary character lets the author and the reader take a step back, breath and sometimes laugh before they jump back into the meat of a story. I love all my secondary characters - until they start clamoring for their own stories. :-)

michelle kopra said...

Great post, love the hummingbird character :)

Brenda said...

I L.O.V.E your series...loved all your characters: main and secondary.
I am dying to read Turncoat's T.

I really enjoy writing secondary characters.

Cynthia said...

Love love love secondary characters! Also love Allison's books!

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