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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Secondary Characters

In a romance novel, it's the hero and heroine - and their love story - that are the main focus. And that's how it should be. We all love to close that book with a contented sigh at that "happily ever after."

But along the way to the ending are many stumbling blocks for our couples. And one of the best devices to help them along the way to happiness is the secondary character.

I love secondary characters. They can come in many forms - a hero's best friend, a heroine's father or sister. For that matter, a secondary character needn't even be human. Animal friends, ghosts, or fairies can sometimes be just as real in the world of romantic fiction.

Two of my favorite secondary characters appear in my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, as well as my upcoming Highland Press release, Coming Home.

Margaret Kilpatrick is known to everyone in the small Irish village of Ballycashel as Grannie Meg, She's my heroine's grandmother, shrewd, full of wisdom, understanding, and the rock Siobhan Desmond depended on when her life was nearly destroyed by the Famine. She was also the first to perceive hero Rory O'Brien's true character.

Tom Flynn was even more fun to write. He was Siobhan's best friend from girlhood, a man she looks on as a big brother. He stood by her during the worst time of her life.

Tom has also been like a second father to Siobhan's daughter Ashleen, heroine of Coming Home, and that "second father" role does complicate Ashleen's budding romance with Irish-American war hero, Cavan Callaghan. There were a few times when Tom's Irish stubbornness - and the famous Flynn temper! - tried to take over the story. But I managed to rein him in. And he did help bring about a very satisfying conclusion to Ashleen and Cavan's romance.

Do you enjoy seeing secondary characters take part in the romance of the hero and heroine? Who are some of your favorite - and least favorite - secondary characters?

11 comments:

Lori Brighton said...

Secondary characters are great! I really like when an author takes a favorite secondary character and gives him/her their own book.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Lori, thanks for visiting. As a reader, I've always loved to see a favorite secondary character get his or her own story. As a writer, I understand how they can demand their own story, and insist on telling it to you! These characters have a way of jumping off the page and grabbing hold of my imagination - and not letting go until I've written their story as they want it told!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I agree with you on the secondary characters being an integral part of a story. My favorite story with great secondary characters is Gone With the Wind. They are the spice that makes this such a fantastic story. And, I believe I was told at her museum, the most purchased book in history other than the Bible. That is saying a lot for a one time author.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Paisley, thanks for stopping by. I love GWTW, and the secondary characters are indeed wonderful. They're every bit as memorable as Scarlett and Rhett, and I think that's the best thing you can say about a secondary character.

librarypat said...

Secondary characters are a necessity for a good story. The hero and heroine cannot exist in a vacuum. The secondaries help round them out and give you insight into the personality/character of the main characters. They also serve as an avenue for side plots and stories. It is also gratifying to see the really good ones go on to have their own book.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Librarypat, great comments, and very true. Ashleen O'Brien featured in my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, then demanded her own story. Naturally, I had to comply! Thanks for stopping by!

Mari said...

I love well fleshed out secondary characters. Catherine Coulter has had some great secondary characters in her books that almost stole the show!

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Mari, thanks for visiting. Yes, Catherine Coulter's secondary characters are wonderful. But you do have to be careful not to let them take over the story.

librarypat said...

Secondary characters are a necessity for a good story. The hero and heroine cannot exist in a vacuum. The secondaries help round them out and give you insight into the personality/character of the main characters. They also serve as an avenue for side plots and stories. It is also gratifying to see the really good ones go on to have their own book.

November 8, 2009 11:28 PM
forgot to leave an email address.
librarypat@comcast.net

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Yes, secondary characters are half the fun in a well-written novel. To give you another example of a secondary character getting her own book, the sister in A Knight Before Christmas gets her own romance in Once Upon A Knight, Jackie Ivie's latest release. It's like seeing an old friend when a character shows up in a later book.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Lynn, thanks for stopping by. Yes, secondary characters are like old friends, and I think that's a big part of why readers enjoy them so much.