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secondary characters

One Wedding And Twelve Tuxedos

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Until this month, I would have said the strangest thing I have researched – and written about – for one of my novels, was the chapter in my first Onion novel, where my characters built a bridge over a river in 3rd Century Italy.

Alison Alexandra seems destined to edge me even further.

In There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth, I currently find myself writing about a wedding ceremony where the bride is dressed in a tuxedo, as are all her attendants. She is a fashion designer, and has created a line of female tuxedos. She is unveiling them at her own wedding.

Peaked vs. shawl lapels – to say nothing of all the colours.

One aspect of Alison Alexandra – rarely alluded to – is that in her teens and early twenties, she was a fashion model in Europe. She left the job from boredom after five years, but it is from this enterprise she gained enough sustainable income (via investments) to be left alone, and live the life she lives.

However, her mentor – the fashion designer, Bellissima Isobella – has called her back to do a favour. Bellissima Isobella is getting married, and has created a line of tuxedos for herself and all her attendants. What better way to promote them?

There is the aspect of the tail wagging the dog in this research. And, let me tell you, the Interent is awash with photos of ladies in tuxedos.

Oh – yes.
Alison Alexandra will be in red.
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Alison Alexandra Knocks Hell Out Of Her High School Reunion

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So, Alison Alexandra is invited to go to her 20th high school reunion. Because of a few years as a fashion model, she is deemed the “most famous” of her class.

The author wonders who she is going to meet. And what is going to happen. Alison Alexandra demands more than ordinary. Through sundry meetings and back story (told in the present), these folk end up at her table.

Big Stakes Gamble – at the time of her high school tenure, he was a Motor Mechanics teacher. He is retired and now runs the only B&B in town. Alison Alexandra takes accommodation in his establishment. They decide to go to the reunion together. When they arrive, there is a name tag for her, but not for him. Alison Alexandra makes him wear her name tag. There are comedic results. {Also, in all this, the author found out name tag is two words}.

Betty Dragger – a fellow graduate of Alison Alexandra’s who was once married, but has pointedly reverted to her birth name. She carries her own bottle of olives to adorn her drinks of gin.

Ed Keen – he attended the high school only one year. But that happened to be the year his father was imported into the town to shut down the major employer. He has even fewer pleasant memories than does Alison Alexandra, who was (to quote her) “Bored shitless.”

Lee (short for Louise) Keen – wife of Ed, who has never been in the town before. She can ask questions and fill back story. She has no trouble holding her own with four people who share something she hasn’t.

The author did not know who was going to be sitting at this table.

Ya know – he had a hell of a good time.

DE

Second Bananas And Also-Rans Complete The Picture

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My onion novel, CHINA LILY, spans decades. My main family, the Cannaras, travel the globe (of their time, which is the Fourteen hundreds). Lots of time on ships. Lots of time on horseback.

In their distant locations over their diverse times they meet different people. These people fill the chapters they are in, but then they are gone. They are really secondary characters to the novel, but nothing could be accomplished without them. In their own time frame they are front-and-center.

This same situation happened in my *thriller*. The time frame was much different (squeezed into a few days). And the location was one city until near the end. But the nature of the immediacy and the surprising twists of plot and the intense action called upon the use of many secondary characters. They were figuratively press-ganged into action. They did their bit and were not called upon again. Louie-the-dog was to be a secondary character with a ‘walk on’ part. He stayed.

I am having a growing fascination for these secondary characters. They have to be developed within paragraphs instead of chapters. Their dialogue and thoughts have to be concise and unique from the start. They possess a freedom of action the main characters do not have. They are not loaded down with baggage. They are a challenge to write and difficult to rein in. They are generally saucy and rarely ponder their lot. Yet they must be real and not just plot devices. They have to be taken at face value and accepted quickly. They must stand out in the background.

A novel of only secondary characters – hmmmm . . .

DE

[image] https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vZSuKHVPTpI/VsNpi-m3ekI/AAAAAAAAU7I/8JA_0K9LM_g/s1600/2015%2Bcollage.jpg

Not Ready for Prime Time Characters / Spear Carriers

My onion novel, CHINA LILY, spans decades. My main family, the Cannaras, travel the globe (of their time, which is the Fourteen hundreds). Lots of time on ships. Lots of time on horseback.

In their distant locations, over their diverse times, they meet different people. These people fill the chapters they are in, but then they are gone. They are really secondary characters to the novel, but nothing could be accomplished without them. In their own time frame, they are front-and-center.

This same situation happened in my *thriller*. The time frame was much different (squeezed into a few days). And the location was in the same city, until near the end. But the nature of the immediacy, the surprising twists of plot, and the intense action called upon the use of many secondary characters. They were figuratively press-ganged into action. They did their bit and were not called upon again. Louie-the-dog was to be a secondary character with a ‘walk on’ part. He stayed.

 I am having a growing fascination for these secondary characters. They have to be developed within paragraphs instead of chapters. Their dialogue and thoughts have to be concise and unique from the start. They possess a freedom of action the main characters do not have. They are not loaded down with baggage. They are a challenge to write and difficult to rein in. They are generally saucy, and rarely ponder their lot. Yet they must be real and not just plot devices. They have to be taken at face value and accepted quickly. They must stand out in the background.

Secondary characters are a challenge to write and a thrill to create. Each and every one of them excite me.

Hmmmm …  a novel of only secondary characters  … hmmmm…

DE

“Fifth Business” by Robertson Davis

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