Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Secondary Characters are like Dessert

I’ve never had a cheesecake I didn’t like, have you?

Secondary characters are my favorite. Yeah, the main characters are cool and in love and tough and go through all these obstacles. But the secondary characters add pizazz to everything- yes, I said pizazz. *Spirit fingers.* 

Something about being a minor or secondary character gives them freedom to do and say whatever the heck they want. Without good secondary characters, your MS could end up like a pumpkin spice latte without the spice. Bland. I know I’m using a lot of food analogies here, but seriously, who doesn’t understand food? 

Hot chocolate is delicious, but add some marshmallows or fluff and YUM!
But seriously; secondary characters are IMPORTANT. It’s hard to get into a story that only has the main hero/heroine and a villain thrown in. Someone needs to be there to cut in so they don’t spend all 400 pages making out and being angsty. 

Okay, so I might have lied about not having read a secondary character I didn’t like, and maybe I made a cheese cake that was too lemony and it wasn’t so great either. Those would be the secondary characters that aren’t really characters. They’re plot tools, placed in the story line for only one reason—to forward the MC along somehow. To betray them, to help them get information they couldn’t have gotten themselves, to be a part of a love triangle—the list can go on.

These are characters that I wouldn’t even call characters. They’re plot tools.  They may have a reason to betray the MC at the last minute, but it’s shallow and not tapped into and looked into as deeply as needed. 

Secondary characters shouldn’t be used as a tool or crutch for information needing to be relayed to the MC—or a savior at the perfect time. They should be incorporated and woven in with the good and the bad. They should be their own main character of their own story. It’s hard to get a good grasp of how much is too much. 

Now… writing a good secondary character is just as hard as writing a great MC. They have to have the same amount of personality, background, wants, and needs as the main characters and villains, except we don’t see as much as we see the MC’s, so you have to fit in glimpses of them.

I love a good secondary character that takes the spot light, but doesn’t overwhelm.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Power of Research

           While writing fiction—especially fantasy, you may think that there isn’t much research to be done. I mean, everything can be magical right? You don’t really have to know how a lock works—except I did when most of my characters now how to pick them.

Or maybe you THINK you know something, like if your character gets a concussion, they’re not supposed to fall asleep because they could never wake up again—which is wrong by the way. See how foolish I would have looked to someone who knew the truth, if I had one of my characters get a concussion and the doctor tell his friends not to let him sleep—the exact opposite of what the doctor would actually say? 

                This is why doing your research is important. Something so small can throw a reader out of the world—the story—so easily.

                But not only do you need research to fact check how long it takes a broken finger to heal or how to check if a berry on a purple bush would probably be poisonous by the color alone, but it also leads you to discover things you didn’t know; things that you can add into your story and make it even better and more interesting.

                I was looking into why people have hangovers. (Which may have started as a question for my own curiosity…) And while I was looking into the reasons, I came across a preventative. Not only a preventative, but this stuff is practically a poison repellant! Activated Charcoal.  I’ve never heard of this stuff. Ever. But people eat it. Intrigued, I looked into its uses. Poison control. This stuff prevents you from dying if you ingest poison. How cool it that?

If you mix this stuff with five times the lethal dose of arsenic and drink it—nada.  You won’t die.  Not only that, but it’s used to nullify the poison I have one of my characters using—haaaaaa the sun comes out and everything fits together.  

Not only is it used against poisons, but it also whitens teeth and helps with stomache problems and is used to filter water. 

                It’s amazing what kind of interesting tid-bits you can find while researching.  You never know what kind of inspiring things you could find and who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire your next book or scene or even series!