It Takes a Village
By Barbara White Daille
Once again, I'm glad to be back at Seekerville and especially happy to be here to celebrate the publication of HONORABLE RANCHER, which...drumroll...releases today! I hope you're all ready to party!
As this is the third book set in Flagman's Folly, New Mexico, it's provided me with quite a bit of info regarding today's topic: the role of secondary characters. First, let me introduce you to the hero and heroine.
A Best Friend’s Vow
The hero of Flagman’s Folly has been gone more than a year. But he still stands between Ben Sawyer and what he desires most—Dana Wright, the love of Ben’s life.
When soldier Paul Wright left for the last time, he made his best friend promise to look after his wife and kids. Ben—good, steady Ben—is honoring that promise. And it’s burning him up inside.
Because Dana is shutting Ben out. She wants him—so much—but she can’t afford to give in. If she does, she’ll spill her secret, and the betrayal will hurt everyone she cares about—her children, who loved their daddy; her town, which loves its hero; and Ben, who loved his friend. She’ll do anything to protect her secret—even give up her second chance at happiness.
And now, on to the secondary characters!
"It takes a village to raise a child."
You've heard the expression before, haven't you? For our purposes, let's rephrase that sentence to: "It takes a village to help a hero and heroine reach their Happy Ever After. Or not." (grin)
One of the many things I love about writing romance is the ability to draw on secondary characters. With books set in small towns—as mine usually are—we gain immediate access to family, co-workers, church members, neighbors, and friends of both the hero and heroine. This melting pot of people offers never-ending possibilities for storylines!
Many of these folks are matchmakers who intend to help the romance along.
Some are busybodies who want—need—to know what's going on in everyone's lives and who manage to add their two cents to any situation.
And a few of these people are just there to cause trouble. Because not every character in a novel, romance or otherwise, wants the book to end happily.
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Sometimes it's hard to tell which role each character's playing. Since I can best show you what I mean by giving you an example from my own work, I'll share one clip from HONORABLE RANCHER. It's been edited for space...and to protect the guilty. LOL
(A quick FYI: Clarice and Ellamae are two older members of the Flagman's Folly community, and Clarice is also Dana's next-door neighbor.)
"Dana went back inside," Clarice reported, peering around the edge of the window curtain. "I'll tell you, Ellamae, Ben's spending a good deal of time over there. What will people think?"
To tell the truth, Ellamae didn't much care about anyone's opinion but her own. "We covered that, didn't we? You ought to be happy. Considering all the work he's putting in, he'll raise the property values of the entire neighborhood."
"You think so?"
"Who mails out the town tax statements?" she asked, not expecting an answer. They both knew very well that she did. "I'd like to find out what those girls are up to. I heard Kayla came into Town Hall the other day to look up some zoning ordinances."
"I don't know." The admission bothered her. She liked keeping up with what went on in her town. "The judge and I were in court at the time, and nobody in the office asked her." That would never have happened if she'd been at the front desk that day.
"I was talking with Dana just before you pulled up," Clarice said. "She mentioned a proposal for the council."
"A proposal to do what?"
"She didn't say."
Ellamae bit her tongue. Some folks just didn't have a proper curiosity bone in their bodies.
"People like to keep their troubles to themselves."
"Well, they shouldn't," Ellamae said flatly. At Clarice's expression, she added, "I mean, they shouldn't be closemouthed with their friends. Talking over troubles is what friends are for."
"Maybe Dana's doing all her talking with Ben now."
When Clarice picked up her kitting, Ellamae sat and brooded. Some of the woman's comments had given her cause to think. "You know," she said after a while, "I believe on my way home later, I'll stop at Town Hall and look up a few ordinances myself."
"It's Saturday. Town Hall is closed."
Ellamae smiled. "Not to me, it isn't."
With the above example, you might not be able to tell what roles these two women play—matchmakers, troublemakers, or just plain busybodies. And that's okay. Wondering what the secondary characters are up to makes a book fun for the reader. Actually, it can make it fun for the author, too.
The roles of secondary characters aren't limited to those of the above. Among other jobs, they can be confidantes, friends the hero and heroine trust to listen to their troubles. (Ellamae would be happy to fill that role!)
They might serve as a reflection, revealing insights in the way their past or current situations parallel those of the main characters.
A secondary character can also act as a nemesis, a role that sometimes goes far beyond troublemaker even to the point of posing a threat to the main character's life.
From the friendliest to the most dangerous, secondary characters almost always have their jobs cut out for them. Because it often does take a village to get the hero and heroine together.
What's your favorite type of supporting character?
Oh—and what have you brought to the party? (smile)
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~~~Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.
From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.
She hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!
Barbara would love to have you drop by her website:
You can also find her on:Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille and