Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I thought it might happen!

I thought it might happen. Even planned it, really. And earlier this week, it happened!
What happened, you ask? I had a reader/reviewer, who got an advance copy of HEALING LUKE, email me to ask if Luke's brother, Aaron, and their father, Bart, would get stories of their own. As an author, there's not a better compliment than to have a reader ask to see more from your secondary characters. (Well, there is "I stayed up all night to finish the book!" and "I'm going to the store now to buy your whole backlist!" ...but wanting stories for the secondary characters is right up there!)
Knowing that a reader not only fell in love with your characters in THIS book, but that they enjoyed your writing enough to want more is heady stuff. I'm flattered beyond belief.
It also reinforces my belief that memorable secondary characters are almost as important to a story as having a hero and heroine the reader can love. In fact, I have a workshop that I give to writers' groups called "Secondary Characters: The Good, The Bad and The Quirky."
Good secondary characters have depth, interest, unique traits and–perhaps most important– they have a function in the story and add something to the book. For example, in the opening chapters of HEALING LUKE, Luke's father is his adversary in terms of Luke's initial goal, remaining a recluse and avoiding failure. Bart helps get the plot rolling by hiring Abby to help with Luke's physical therapy. Throughout the course of the book, as Luke's relationship with Abby grows, we also see his relationship with his father evolve. By the end of the book, Luke is looking to Bart for advice in the role of a mentor. Bart's character never changes. He's essentially the same concerned and loving- if a bit out of touch- father he was at the opening of the book, but he plays an important role in the advancement of the plot and highlighting aspects of the conflict that Luke must face. Bart is not just window dressing. He has his own flaws, backstory and ways of dealing with issues that are uniquely his. The same can be said for Luke's brother, Aaron, who plays an even bigger role in the book than Bart.
And the answer to that question the reader asked? Will Bart and Aaron get their own books? I certainly hope so. I have ideas for Aaron's book, even had most of it written a couple computers ago. (I'm afraid that file may be lost in the great beyond now...) But some day, with luck, two more awesome Morgan men will have a chance to have their story told!
What secondary characters have you always wanted to see stories written for but so far haven't?
Happy Wednesday and happy birthday to my very own hubby Paul!!


  1. You lost the file in the great beyond???? I'd be tearing my hair out if I were you!
    Congrats on the good news. Looking forward to reading this one!

  2. Congratulations on receiving such heady feedback, Beth! I love secondary characters and what they can bring to a story. I wrote my second book because my beta readers so loved one of the characters in the first one and wanted to know what happens to her.

    Good luck rewriting Aaron's story.

  3. Hi Beth--

    You know, I was wondering the very same things as I finished your book last week! I think Aaron needs a strong woman to stop his womanizing ways :)


  4. I can imagine that right up there with the best feedback to hear. Congratulations! Sorry about the lost file, but I'm sure the new book will be great too, one day.

  5. I sympathize about the lost file.[sigh] About secondaries who get their own books--what a thrill to have someone already asking who's up next! It shows you made a secondary real.

  6. Receiving compliments in any form is fabulous! I wish more readers knew just how wonderful, and important, it is. Of course, I never wrote an author I liked either - it just never occurred to me to do so!

    Yep, love those secondary characters! I can't WAIT until everyone meets Dr. Darcy and many others that I added to my second book. It is replete with secondary characters.

    I am already halfway through writing a novel for Georgiana Darcy. And I have strong urgings to write for Kitty Bennet and then George Darcy. Hopefully it is in the fates. But the desire is all about falling in love with my characters and wanting their voices to be heard.

    Good luck Beth! Can't wait to read this one.

  7. Congratulations, Beth. It's great that you received that kind of feedback. It feels wonderful, huh?

    Secondary characters are the best. I wholeheartedly agree with you. It's so important that secondary characters are both three-dimensional and necessary to the story. Great secondary characters can make or break a book. Let's face it, very few people live their lives alone and most of our heroes and heroines don't. There's always the nosey neighbors, the sister who teased him or her whole time they were growing up and still thinks she needs to tell our main character what to do. There are parents, grandparents and friends who are willing to hold our main characters' feet to the fire. Without them, how can a hero or heroine be three dimensional?

  8. Thanks, everyone for your feedback on secondary characters! Given the push for Aaron's story, I've begun working through how his book might work and updating my old idea for current market needs...
    On another note-- I received word yesterday that one of my books, UNDER FIRE, won the GRAND PRIZE in the Lories Best Published contest. Yippee!!
    Have a great week everyone and happy reading!

  9. Omigosh, I'm with Cheryl. There's almost nothing worse than losing a file!!! Super on the great news!