Girly Book Blog Hop

Thank you Author Libby Mercer for letting me participate in The Girly Book Blog Hop! I am so happy to be here discussing secondary characters!

All of the books I write feature one main character. As I write the book, I focus on her goals and the obstacles that stand in the way of her achieving them and I try to flesh her out as much as possible. What does she look like? Is she single or in a relationship? Is she reserved and cautious or is she impulsive and rebellious? What is her relationship with her family? Most of the book is written to tell her story and how she gets from her status on page one to “the end.”

But how boring would a book be if there was only one character? Not everyone can write a story like Cast Away or 127 hours, both of which featured only one character for the majority of the film and yet managed to capture my attention for approximately 2 hours. With very few exceptions, I want to see the main character interact with other people. If the book includes a romantic element, the main character needs a love interest (or 2 or 3). If the book features a career goal, we might need someone the main character competes with or a boss to either support or stand in the way of her goals. Unless we want all of our main character’s feelings to be written in narrative or inner dialogue, we need friends and/or family for her to vent to. In a nutshell, it is extremely difficult to write a story with ups and downs, twists and turns, conflict and resolution if the main character has no interactions with other people. And that is where the secondary characters come in.

In almost every review of my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, people commented about Stephanie’s group of friends and how they added a comedic element to the book. People said that Stephanie’s friends reminded them of their own. She had the friend who refused to sugar coat when Stephanie did something stupid. She had the best guy friend who acted as her big brother, both teasing and protective. She had the younger friend who turned Stephanie from advice seeker to advice giver. And she had the platonic friend on whom she secretly crushed. She also had a Jewish mother who constantly badgered her about her single status. All of these characters (and more) added spice to Stephanie’s life and to the novel.

In my newly released novel, A State of Jane, Jane is the main character but sharing some of the spotlight is her well-meaning and sometimes promiscuous roommate Lainie; her loyal, yet unlucky-in-love best friend Marissa; her older sister Claire; her easy going dad and sometimes domineering mother; her mentor in all-things-men, colleague Andrew and her ex boyfriend of nine years, Bob (among others).

 

Admittedly, I tend to focus mainly on the protagonist in my first draft and it is not until later revisions (and sometimes prodding by my beta readers or editor) to flesh out my secondary characters so that they are not only there to support my main character but also have lives of their own. My friends are always there to listen to and support me but it goes both ways and our conversations do not always revolve around me. To make my novels more realistic, I give my secondary characters their own problems and I think it is an important feature in books in my genre. First of all, a character would not be very likeable if all she did was talk about herself. Secondly, secondary characters can add a lot of humor and depth to a story.

Notwithstanding the paragraph above, it is important not to create such a strong storyline for a secondary character that it overpowers the main plot line nor would I recommend creating a character who is considerably more interesting than the main character. Secondary characters should add to the book but not take it over. If a secondary character is on the verge of stealing the spotlight, it might be a sign that the novel should be rewritten to focus on that character instead!

And there you have it, my thoughts on secondary characters!

In order to win an ebook of A State of Jane (Kindle or Nook download), please leave a comment below with a) your email address and b) your favorite secondary character from a chick lit novel. And don’t forget to check out the posts of all of the other great participating authors!

“Jane Frank is ready to fall in love.  It’s been a year since her long  term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was  kissed.  With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her  father’s law firm.  There’s just one problem: all the guys in New York City are flakes.  They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no  warning and no explanation.  Should she join her best friend Marissa in  singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood?  Or should  she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who scorned her?  As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities  and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to  realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.”

 

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Comments

  1. I loed your first book. I cannot wait to read your next.

    Brn2shop9 at gmail dot com

  2. Tracie Banister says:

    “Secondary characters should add to the book but not take it over.”

    Well said, Meredith! What a great, thought-provoking post! Now I’m trying to think of my favorite secondary character in a Chick Lit novel . . . maybe Sooz in the Shopaholic books? I like that in those books the usual pattern of smart, stable heroine/wacky BFF is turned on its head and the heroine is the nutty one while the BFF is the voice of reason.

    No need to enter me in the giveaway as I already have A State of Jane waiting on my Kindle! 🙂

  3. Samantha Stroh Bailey says:

    I agree with Tracie. Great advice! I LOVED Stephanie’s mom in Just Friends With Benefits and A State of Jane is waiting to be devoured. Super post, Meredith!

  4. Libby Mercer says:

    Fabulous post, Meredith, and thanks for hopping with me! Now, as far as favorite secondary characters… it’s tough but I think I have to go with Sadie, the ghost from Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl.

  5. Susan Buchanan says:

    Completely agree with what you’ve said, but found it interesting that you fleshed out the secondary characters in later drafts. Always interests me how we all write differently. Love the fact that the friends are all diverse, as that’s what real life is like. And some are modest, humble, others forthright and downright embarrassing! Anyway, one secondary character whom I love from a chick lit novel is Eve from Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends. Good luck with the rest of the blog hop, Sooz

  6. Brandi Franklin says:

    Favorite secondary character is Griffen from Thoughtless and Effortless….he is HOT and funny…great combo 🙂

  7. Rachel Kall says:

    Since it’s fresh on my mind, I loved Tracie Banister’s Izzy in In Need of Therapy. She was so fun.

  8. Lucie Simone says:

    I love the mom character in Marian Keyes’ novels about the Walsh sisters. So kooky & funny.

  9. I loved Lainie, Marissa & Claire to the point where I even sided with them at times. Heh. Great post!

  10. Cindy Roesel says:

    I love that – 3 choices: singlehood, cupcakes or True Blood. You know MY vote! LOTS of fun!
    Hope you pop over, visit with me and join my blog, too, Miss Meredith!
    xo cindy

  11. I loved Suze in Confessions of a Shopaholic. A State of Jane is already on my Kindle… can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  12. Jayne Hannah says:

    Good post Meredith. Yep I’ve fallen into that issue where a secondary becomes larger than the lead. I like the Dad and his eventual girlfriend from Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook. Enjoy the hop!

  13. I like Suze from Confessions of a Shopaholic.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

  14. Great blurb, Meredith. State of Jane sounds fantastic! I’m a fan of Suze in the Shopaholic series, though I pretty much love every character Sophie Kinsella creates, Shopaholic or no. Great to “Hop” with you!

  15. Sharon Arthur Moore says:

    Really good post. I can see by the info in the whole girly book blog hop that I have to rewrite my secondary characters. Thanks for that insight.

  16. Savannah Page says:

    Fantastic blog post, Meredith! So true about sec. characters. I love your new novel’s cover, by the way. Adorable!! I’d have to say my favorite secondary lady is Samantha in Bushnell’s latest work. I love seeing her as the “younger Samantha” before she really becomes THE Ms. Jones. Such great writing and character “pre-development” there.

  17. Cassandra Hicks says:

    I would have to say Chris from Lori Foster’s Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series & Simi from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!
    cassandrahicks1989@yahoo.com

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