Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Character Development - the Unexpected

The family arrived at my booksigning in Mt. Dora in time for photos & taking me out to lunch.
A lovely time in Mt. Dora last Saturday, meeting, greeting, and signing books with a number of other romance authors at the W. T. Bland Library. If you ever have an opportunity to visit Mt. Dora, don't miss it. From beautiful lake to classic 19th c. hotel to a steam train and several blocks of unique boutiques, it's a "must" for those who like to get off the beaten track of theme parks and I-Drive.

Update on the Great Python Hunt

From The Orlando Sentinel, Saturday, August 20, 2016:
Autopsies on 104 of the Burmese pythons killed in this year's hunt in the Everglades revealed that pythons eat pretty much anything that moves. Found inside were 7 alligators and 50 mammals, including two deer and and 38 birds. Besides deer, among the mammals were rats, possums, mice, muskrats, raccoons, rabbits and squirrels. Among the birds, at least one wood stork, which is a threatened species.  Estimates of the number of pythons in the glades - the result of abandoned pets - range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Obviously, the glades are a prolific breeding ground. Although the state has budgeted twelve million toward eradicating non-native species, it is conceded that the pythons have "gone native" and getting rid of them will be nearly impossible.

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When Your Characters Seize the Bit & Run with It

 In past posts to Mosaic Moments I've talked about the main characters in a novel taking charge and writing the story their way, thank you very much. Today's blog, however, is about secondary characters who refuse to accept their lowly position in your book. 

I hasten to warn, this can be disastrous. When your secondary characters try to hog the book, taking away focus from your hero and heroine, perhaps even from the plot itself, this is BAD, BAD, BAD. Not to be tolerated. But think of all the long-running romantic series - certain historical romances come instantly to mind - where after a while, succeeding books begin to feature not just brother, sisters, and close friends of the original hero and heroine, but second cousins once removed, mere acquaintances, even old enemies - anyone and everyone who can be snatched up to star in the next book. Gotta keep that series going somehow, cuz readers really love series!

But no, that's not what I'm talking about today. I'm talking about characters never intended to be anything more than secondary characters - characters who were added for a bit of color or because we really can't expect the hero to have been celibate in the years before he met the heroine - hence the bit part of his mistress. And what's a rebellion without an enemy? If the Governor Generals of the enemy's occupation force are dropping like flies, we're bound to come to a more reasonable one eventually. Right? So below, a few words on how, in the course of a four-book series, three minor characters in my Blue Moon Rising series insisted on being something more than I ever intended. (Actually, it's over the course of three books - I have yet to write Book 4.)

K'kadi Amund. Regular readers of Mosaic Moments are already familiar with K'kadi, the boy who doesn't talk. Sister of the heroine in Rebel Princess, he comes charging into the book early on. Fey, heedless, not quite "all there," he talks solely through illusions and adds a light touch to a serious plot of rebellion against an empire. But wait . . . are his illusions simply amusement, or are they predictions of the future? Can K'kadi learn enough discipline so his paranormal skills can be of use to the rebellion? And then there's the awkwardness of his being only a half-brother to the princess known as Kass, his mother - oops - not the king's wife. 

Near the end of Rebel Princess, just as K'kadi seems to making progress toward some kind of normalcy, his concentration wavers and he messes up. Badly. And I, as author, suddenly realized that K'kadi is no longer the comic relief but a persistent, stubborn, wannabe hero who, no matter how serious the scene, keeps popping up whenever and wherever he wants. K'kadi has become a person in his own right. A character who speaks to readers, even if he cannot speak to the other people in his world. K'kadi is the child who doesn't fit in, the one we shake our heads over, the one we pray life will smile on, even though we have our doubts.

And inevitably, in Book 2, Sorcerer's Bride, K'kadi continues to grow, refusing to be the boy who lurks in the background, confining his illusions to filling the sky with fireworks on special occasions. In a crisis K'kadi even manages to develop a form of silent communication called "thought-speak," in which he can make himself understood by those closest to him. He falls in love, though that proves to be more of a disaster than a happy event. By the end of Sorcerer's Bride, K'kadi is sneaking into hero mode, a wiser, more stable version of the boy we met in Rebel Princess. Enough so that in Book 3, The Bastard Prince, he becomes the hero and finally gets his very own point of view.

Never, ever, when I introduced K'kadi did I expect him to rise to the level of hero. It simply happened. He was too intriguing a character to keep forever in the background. So yes, he doesn't talk. Yes, he makes mistakes. Yes, like so many of the highly gifted, his mind occasionally wanders. And when he finally gets not just one girl but two, readers may be inclined to want to spank him . . . But no one can deny he fought his way to the top, simply refusing to remain the kid brother created to add a light moment or two. (Actually, his creation was totally spontaneous - unplanned. K'kadi simply leaped onto the page and stayed there.) 

Okay, K'kadi's done it again - hogged more space than I planned - so I'll save B'aela Flammia and Rand Kamal for next time. They too were expedient characters, people I felt were necessary for a moment or two before being faded to black. Ha! Guess not. They were are as persistent as K'kadi, clinging to the story for all they were worth. For their stories, please join me for the next Mosaic Moments.

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Thanks for stopping by,

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.  

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