Sunday, April 24, 2011

Second in Line, But First in Our Hearts! By Allure Van Sanz

No, I’m not talking about Prince Harry, who is living in the shadow of his brother making questionable choices. I’m talking about secondary characters writers and readers grow to love.

For me, I don’t start off adoring my secondary characters. I love my hero and heroine (or heroes or heroines—or any combination)—my love for them is what drives me to write the story.

And yet, I have noticed, while writing my secondary characters, I come to love them more and more, and by the end of the story, with my main characters happy and together—I’m totally in love with my secondary character(s) and wanting to write their story.

My first example is Grey. Grey is from my Indie release, Murder Creek; a book I wrote using the role-playing logs between myself and Random Wicks as inspiration. Grey is a Nomad (think sexy elf meets sexy bad-boy biker) who has a fascination with the 80’s. He’s best friends with Vic, a buddy he’s known all his life, and not very happy with the new girl in Vic’s life. Grey’s a funny guy. Random always wrote him funny, so when I was writing him in the book, I was nervous. Every scene in Murder Creek came out with relative ease…except the ones with Grey in them. I had one of those Top Gun moments after I finished the first draft of the book and was going through to tighten characters, setting, and emotions. “Talk to me, Goose(Grey).”

Dead air.

He either wasn’t ready to talk or I was too worried to listen. And then one day…it happened. I inserted a stake-out scene. Vic and Grey are outside of the heroine’s place, waiting for her to make a move. Originally, the scene went like this:

Grey bit down on a dried sliced banana, staring out his windshield at the warehouse in front of them.

Two and a half stories high, the building had a ramp sloping from the sidewalk down to a roll-down garage door. Great for parking an expensive car in a piece of shit neighborhood. The windows of the first floor were boarded up, and from what he could see of the second, the small tile-like windows in various shades of green and fogged gray were missing a few panels.

“You’re positive this is her place? I mean, the garage entrance is bangin’ but the rest ain’t much.”

Vic held a pair of binoculars and peered up at the soft glow coming from the second story. “I’m positive. You see the little panes missing in those factory windows? They’re strategic, easy to put a gun through in every direction to snipe someone who might be gunnin’ for you. There’s fresh brick at each of the corners too, probably hiding new sensors that will tell her if anyone is on the roof or on the sidewalk surrounding the building.” His finger pointed, tracing the bricks in the distance. “Same thing by the garage. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were machine guns that lowered from the overhang to shoot anyone that got too close to her car. It’s a damned fine car.”

“We’ve been here a while and haven’t seen shit. I hope you’re not wrong.”

“I saw her leaving a flaming gift behind and followed her here. Or near here. She turned the corner and I lost her. This seemed the perfect place.”

“What’s that shit?” Grey asked, nodding his head toward the object between them.

Vic looked at the box next to him and smiled. “I stole it. It’s a cell phone recorder. You point this cone-thing toward the target and it locks onto the cell line. It tapes everything. The little lights blink when it’s picking something up.”

After writing the new scene, I felt blah. BORING! I took a shower like it would help wash away my epic failure. The second the water hit my face I heard. “Flaming gift?? You think I’d let that shit slide?” I laughed out loud, jumped out of the shower and ran to my keyboard to type up the “true” scene.

“I saw her leaving a flaming gift behind and followed her here. Or near here. She turned the corner and I lost her. This seemed the perfect place.” Vic lowered the binoculars and caught Grey staring at him as though he lost his damned mind. “What?”
“Flaming gift?”

“Yeah,” Vic shrugged. “A corpse. Deceased target. You know…a gift.”

“Yeah, Vic. I got that. Who the hell calls them that? I thought they were packages.”

“Package is military. Besides…flaming package?”

“Well Gran calls dogshit ‘gifts’.”

They both quieted for a moment.

“She torched a corpse in an alley.” Vic conceded.

“Much better.” Grey tilted his snack bag in Vic’s direction. “Monkey chips?”

Vic took one and brought his eyes back to the building. “Flaming package.”

They laughed.

“Speaking of the military, what’s that shit?”

And that, my friends, is the reason I fell in love with Grey.

But secondary characters, to me, don’t have to be people. Sometimes, I fall in love with a setting or atmosphere. In my newest release—out now titled Love Revisited: Davit and Jenova—the ghosts who haunt the ruins and the ruins itself are my secondary characters, and one of the reasons I wanted to revisit Davit and Jenova’s story.

In this book, Jenova convinces the spirits to help her take control of her head-strong lover, and show him the joys of complete submission—whether he likes it or not!

Here’s an excerpt I hope gives you a sense of the atmosphere: 

“Something feels a little screwy,” Davit said, clapping his hands free of dirt.

An hour after they were forced to abandon their rented Rover and walk deeper into the jungle, their camp was finally set up, and just in time. The sun painted the sky gold and peeked through the dense trees as it sank toward the horizon. Darkness would come soon…and with it the entities Jenova and Davit had grown to think of as their tribal family.

…Their bizarre, long dead, tribal ghost family.

“We’re here on our annual visit with a tribe that’s been dead for centuries. Something is screwy, Davit, and it’s probably us.”

He gave her the look she’d come to love, the one that said “I’m gonna spank your ass in a second”. She was totally okay with that.

She grinned.

“It’s different, Jen. There’s usually a tremor inside me. Like I can feel them when we get here. But there’s nothing. I felt a flutter when I was pitching the tent but now… I dunno. Something’s up.”

Davit wasn’t the paranoid type. If he thought something was off, then something was.

Gazing around the canopy of trees, up to the steep steps of the ancient temple, she looked for a wisp, a sign—a bird flying backwards or some crap. But Davit was right. Nothing out of the ordinary. The jungle teemed with life, but the dead were silent.

Years ago when he’d first brought her here to the ruins, she’d witnessed the magical energy of the place. The hum of the people who once inhabited the jungle prayed at the altar she’d been strapped to, and poured their souls into the very soil she’d stood on. Before her eyes they’d turned from specters into spectators on the full moon, eager to be part of the living again.

They celebrated her and Davit’s love making, rejoiced in its power and ability to revive their spirits.

And year after year, as promised, she and Davit came back, bringing with them the gift of existence for the duration of the solstice.

“Hm. Maybe we need to head to the altar?” For her, that’s where all the magic began. It only made sense they’d have to return if the mojo was too weak to—

Yes, bring him, came the whispers.

Jenova smiled. It was time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on secondary characters, whether you’re a reader or a writer. Thank you so much for stopping by, and as a reward for doing so, I’ll be giving away a copy of Love Revisited: Davit and Jenova for every six commenters.
You can come visit me any time here:
Murder Creek is a full-length novel available for just 99 cents on Amazon:
Love Revisited: Davit and Jenova is available here:

A big thank you to Rochelle for hosting me this holiday weekend! Thank you so much!


  1. Happy Easter! I loved Murder Creek! Falling in love with your secondary characters and wanting to write about them is great! That will be fun!!

  2. I loved this thanks for sharing (even on holiday)!

    Take care

  3. This sounds like an awesome read!

  4. Hi, AyVee
    You knew I'd have to drop by.

    I think I take the most time developing my secondary characters as they weren't the real inspiration for the story. But the story rises or falls on what those characters do, how the reader accepts them.
    Without solid secondary characters, the story would be about as exciting as a hero jumping in to a car to chase the bad guys, only to realize the car had no wheels.

    Happy Easter.

  5. Allure, I do some of my best thinking in the shower, too. After all, the routine is pretty much the same every day so might as well multi-task! I think having strong secondary characters makes the book more interesting. In Dangerous Love, a character that had only made a cameos in the first book, nearly took over the story. That's the thrill of the ride. Happy Easter!

  6. 'Allo!

    Secondary characters need to be as fleshed out as the main hero/heroine.

    If your supporting players are thin as card-board, the drama suffers or if they are merely used as props, the impact of the story is dramatically weakened.

    The trick is to balance the whole damned lot!

  7. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Hi, Allure!
    And to think you were worried about being all alone on Easter ;)
    I think the secondary characters are important, but what's really interesting to me is when a secondary character winds up stealing the show...or better yet, looks at you with bassett-hound eyes and says, "Is this REALLY the best you can do for me? Second fiddle? Are you KIDDING me?"
    That's when things get fun!
    Great read, as usual :)

  8. Without secondary characters, you won't have primary characters. They are the support staff. They usually follow quietly behind, but sometimes they need to stretch their wings, speak their voice. Once they do that, they're usually content to ga back into the shadows.
    I loved both excerpts.

  9. Oh my goodness! Thank you all for coming. I was quite sure blogging on a holiday would be the worst possible thing I could do. LOL

    You all have proven me wrong and I've never been happier to be wrong.

    Ugh, I am so hopped up on candy right now! Okay let's see.

    @TreSart I'm so glad you enjoyed the read. Hope to give you more to enjoy in the future and maybe host some of your hot stuff!

    @Dawn I'm geeked that you loved Murder Creek. Since it was the first full-length novel that made it out of my trash pile, I was a bit nervous about bringing it out again for the indie publish.

    @ Desere ::hug:: You're such a great supporter. Thank you so much for coming. As always, it means the world to me and makes me wmile each time I see your tag.

    @ Lindsay Thanks for coming, and I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpts. Here...have some of my candy before I eat it all! You can't leave me near this basket alone!

    @ DA Hi! Thanks for coming by, you're so good to me. And I agree, it takes more time to develope them, and sometimes it comes late, like Grey did for me.

    @ Margie--my love, my awesome friend who I hope to spend some Vegas time with! Woot. The secondary characters do make the book more interesting, and I'm not at all surprised to hear one of yours almost took over. Grey threatens to do that in Murder Creek a few times.

    @KatieB! ::grins:: One of my biggest pet peeves in a story I'm reading is when I don't see a reason for a secondary character to be there. Like a person just standing there with a lamp shade on their head, delivering a cheesy one-liner or five.

    @ J.S. Right? I was certain no one would be around and my post would be a waste of time for poor Rochelle. ::hug and then laughs:: OMG, it's like Grey is talking through you right now. "So uh...where's my book?"

    @ Cindy Thank you so much for coming and reading the excerpts. I'm glad you enjoyed the teaser trailers of a couple of my books. Have a great weekend.

  10. I love secondary characters. In my opinion, they can either make or break a story line. I think it's very tricky balancing the secondary characters. You want them strong but not too strong. If they're too weak, why include them? I've never read any of your books and I look forward to doing so.
    Happy Easter!


  11. Happy Easter to You! And everyone else too!
    I won your Love Revisited, and haven't read it as of yet cause I was too busy finishing others books. But I just opened it in my Kindle and can't wait. I'm so with you on secondary characters. You can have some good ones and some bad ones that detract from the story.

    Thank you for this great topic!


  12. Hi Val! Thanks for coming. It is a very tricky balance and one that can easily be offset, unfortunately.

    Darcy! So glad you could make it. I hope you enjoy Love Revisited, and thank you so much for showing your continued support. It means a lot to me.

  13. Your very welcome thanks for sharing your post with us !