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Monday, September 12, 2011

Those Great Secondary Characters

Thanks to all who took part in my first-ever book give-away! The last winner is announced today, so congratulations to "Hopeless." You've just won one of my "Golden Oldies," a hardback romance novel currently selling at Amazon for $23.95. Congratulations also to Alan, my AP colleague and the fifth week's winner, and to Ellen Sannar-Welch, Kimberly, Kyra Evans, and Samantha Rose, all our earlier winners. Thanks to everyone who participated. It's been fun!

Every romance has a hero and a heroine, right? But if those were the only folks in your book, they'd have very narrow lives. This week let's look at the secondary characters who, by their very presence, add depth and dimension to our fictional worlds.

Some companion characters are overdone, so let's not write them anymore. I'm thinking of the cowboy's Indian sidekick; after the Lone Ranger's Tonto showed up, every self-respecting cowboy had one. The heroine's wise-cracking gal pal is another cliche. Think Rosie O'Donnell in "Sleepless in Seattle." After a time, every romantic heroine on the screen had a wise-cracking gal pal.

So where do we find appealing, interesting secondary characters who both broaden and deepen the worlds of our main characters? I'm starting by looking at British film.

Before he came to America and lost his mind (among other things he lost), Hugh Grant made a series of strong British comedies. Although Grant was sometimes a so-so romantic hero, the secondary characters were marvelous, and Grant continued working with strong secondaries in more recent films as well. Just look at his quirky Welsh roommate in "Notting Hill," and the rest of the back-up team is just as splendid.

For that matter, look at all the interesting, appealing people in "About a Boy." What a marvelous secondary line-up!

I loved creating the secondary cast in each of my Rainbow Rock books. I never knew for certain which of them would scream, "Give me a story of my own," thus becoming the hero or heroine of the next book in the series. I was as surprised as anyone when Angelica DeForest told me there was so much more to her that I needed to examine. She became one of my more endearing heroines.

Quirky, funny, outrageous, appealing, interesting people populate our own worlds. Let's choose the best of them to share the worlds of our literary offspring.

Who are your favorite back-up characters? Share?

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