Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm A New Mother!

I gave birth over the weekend to a burly, 190 pound palace guard named Frieder. Well, to be completely honest, Frieder already existed on one page of my novel, but at Dave Wolverton's urging, he has now become a full-fledged character. And he's cute to boot. I do dig a guy with soft curly hair and a dimple when he smiles (sorry hubby, but it's true).

I'm so excited by this new birth. I get the strangest kick out of creating characters, picking names, dressing them, delving into their pasts to discover hidden dreams and holes in their souls. Unearthing their motivations is like digging up a gem, dusting it off, and holding it up in the sun for all the world to see. It's exciting. It's like finding a new friend.

It's also hard. What if bad things are in store for your cute new friend? Frieder has a sweetheart he longs to wed. He's saved every brass coin he's earned for six years to pay her dowry. And he's going to lose her.

Poor Frieder.

Poor me.

I want to cry for him. How can I write this? How can I cement his future heartbreak with a few strokes on my keyboard? It will be hard, but it must be done, because poor Frieder doesn't know he's merely a side-kick, that he exists to create conflict and tension. To him, he is the main character. His story is just as important to him, as the real main character's is to the reader, and that's why I have to know him. I must know what games he played as a child, what he dreams of at night, his fears, strengths, sense of humor, and especially his weaknesses. And that's why I mourn for him before his pain is even written. That way, when I do write him, he can live in your minds and hearts, too. If I do it right.

That's why I stare into oblivion so often. Playing with people's lives is serious business. Even if they only exist between the covers of a book, they are real when you read them. They are real to their creators. They are real to themselves.

What minor characters have you fallen for in books or movies? Can you tell if the author invested time and love in their creation? Does it make a difference in how much you enjoy the story? What makes a good secondary character?

4 comments:

Mary Campbell said...

I'm in love with Frieder already. I'm so excited to learn what you have planned for him. I think Dave was right - it will help to make your story richer.

Jenilyn said...

Congratulations on your new birth! How very exciting.

To be honest, I usually don't think about how an author feels about their characters unless they love them too much. And then I'm disgusted because I want the characters to suffer!

Rebecca J. Carlson said...

I adore good minor characters. One of my favorite books for minor characters is "The Seventeenth Swap" by Eloise McGraw. There's like, seventeen minor characters in that book, and they all feel like completely real, living, breathing people! I don't know how the author did it, especially since most of them are only around for a few pages.

Texasblu said...

I was always a sucker for the minor character - the protagonist always had too much bling. Congrats on bringing Frieder to life! :D

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