Monday, January 5, 2009

SO LONG, 2008, Part II

One of the first decisions a writer needs to make when dreaming up a new story concerns secondary characters. Include? How many? Do they only get lines in scenes with the main characters or will they have a life of their own?

Apprentice Writer's position is clear: she loves them madly. In books she reads and books she writes (to the point some have gently suggested she may need to rein her writerly instincts in). Here is the AW salute to secondary characters that remain vivid in her memory regardless of how long ago in 2008 she read them:

Magny (Loretta Chase, Your Scandolous Ways) - A mysterious Frenchman, who was not only funny but played a totally unforeseen role.

The Marquess of Wharton and Villiers (Eloisa James, Desperate Duchesses) - A befuddled aristocrat, who writes exquisitely terrible poetry and feels genuine fatherly concern. A brilliant aristrocrat, who plays exquisite chess and feels strange and contradictory emotions.

Charlotte Bronte (Jennifer Vandever, The Bronte Project) - The immortal author whose spirit suffuses the whole delightful novel via chapter epigraphs from her correspondence.

Velith (Ann Aguirre, Grimspace) - A fascinating & philosophical extraterrestrial assasin.

Humpty Dumpty (Jasper Fforde, The Big Over Easy) - By far, the most versatile egg ever.

Toot (Laura Kinsale, My Sweet Folly) - A smart ferret. It's wonderful when animals get real roles, rather than acting as mere window-dressing in novels.

Mother Theresa (Claire Cook, Must Love Dogs) - A blundering St. Bernard puppy. Even more wonderful when dogs aren't written in merely to prove that the hero/heroine is a 'good guy/girl' for being briefly nice to them.

Imperial Rome, 19th century Egypt, 19th century Venice (Lindsey Davis, The Silver Pigs; Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank; Loretta Chase, Your Scandolous Ways) - Settings that make the reader not only feel they are right there with the characters, but yearn to stay in that world.

Red high heels (Elizabeth Hoyt, The Serpent Prince) - This footwear, belonging to the hero rather than the heroine, took on symbolic life of its own and miraculously managed not to detract from Viscount Iddlesleigh's masculinity.

Gentle Reader - Which secondary characters did you especially love this year?


Wylie Kinson said...

M - I loved your summary, but I can't even remember which books I've read in 2008 - let alone any of the secondary characters. *le sigh*
Hopefully I'll find more time to read in '09.

have I wished you a happy new year yet? ;)

M. said...

Thanks, Wylie. I understand your difficulty - sometimes I just stop and marvel at all the bloggers who seem to do nothing but read and review books online. Don't they eat? Sleep? Shower? Work? Talk to any IRL friends?

Probably, the answer is they are just much better time-organizers than I.