Saturday, August 23, 2014

Character Takeover

This month's Round-Robin topic is about secondary characters taking over a story. I have to admit I have read stories where I found the secondary character more interesting than the main character or really wanted to read the story of the secondary character. It happens. I believe it has happened in one of my stories.

Magic Aegis was not the first book I wrote, but the first published. The idea was to have several strong women's viewpoints giving insight into the heroine's plight and help the reader understand plot implications the main character could not know. A great change was taking place in the country, Kaereya, and the heroine, Vesper, was symbolic of that change. Now, I don't believe there is anything wrong with Vesper as a character. She is intelligent, perceptive, loving, and courageous. She will show up in some Friday Freebits one of these days.

The Magic Aegis Series
However, when the mercenary Kissre and her horse Bother showed up, my perceptions changed. She kept telling me she was a soldier first and a mercenary from necessity; and yeah, she knew her problems, but those wouldn't affect her duty, her determination, her abilities, or her loyalties. She also knew her limitations, and she didn't give a damn what anyone else thought of her as a woman soldier in a male-dominated profession.

She entered as a minor character with a specific mission, and proceeded to kick everyone's ass, with deference if needed, including mine, but with weapons and skill if required. As an author, I had a character who took thought. Ultimately, she informed me, "No, that's not how I would do that, that's not how I would act. This is how..." With subtle suggestions, she changed the story. Kissre eventually saved the lives of the heroine, the hero, and the heroine's father without dominating the story or making it her own. Her obedience to her orders, especially mine to not overdo her presence, the differences that estranged her from the other characters' expectations, and her love for her animals, earned her the telling of her own story, Acceptance. Snippet paragraphs from her story have already been published in Friday Freebits, and her sister Tyna's story, Change, just finished yesterday. While Change takes place before Acceptance, it wasn't written or published until after — not until Tyna informed me that her side of the family argument needed telling — another character takeover.

What I learned was sometimes a writer can introduce an unexpected character whose personality is stronger than those of the main characters. What matters is the story, so use them but control them, too. Hopefully their presence will make the story more believable and increase the reader's enjoyment.

Be sure to check out the blogs of the following writers to read their take on secondary characters taking over. Enjoy!
Marci Baun
Anne Stenhouse
Fiona McGier
A.J. Maguire
Beverley Bateman
Diane Bator
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Connie Vines
Geeta Kakade


  1. Hi Rhobin, thanks for thinking this one up. I really love my secondary characters and I'm so relieved to read that other writers do too. Anne Stenhouse

  2. Secondary characters can bring out traits writers want to emphasize through stories, like yours did Rhobin.


  3. Rhobin, I love your philosophy on secondary characters. What matters is the story. Use the secondary characters to make the story more believable and increase the reader's enjoyment. I agree.

  4. Thanks, ladies, for participating. I found all the different views similar in various ways, but also uniquely personal. Interesting viewpoints, as always.

  5. Wonderful blog post, Rhobin. You have very respectful characters, or you just know how to communicate with them. LOL