I should have entitled this the week of ‘Character’, or perhaps the week I fell in love with a novel.
Yes, I am quoting WildLives again, but I only do so because I think Proulx writes something crucial.
On my post, WildLives I mentioned a character who is a script writer. Here, we are inside her head:
“Claire paid particular attention to her secondary characters, for secondary characters don’t know they’re secondary characters.”
Well, well. How true! In the girlie flick, The Holiday, with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, Kate Winslet’s character is told by a script writer that in her life story she has to play leading lady and not the secondary one.
I thought about this; do my secondary lead their own leading roles? Yes, they do, of course they do! Yet, do I know their complete story?
In Wildlives, Proulx goes on, through Claire’s eyes:
“What she liked about secondary characters was their status as ordinary people, exposed to the cuts of time’s knife without protection, without luxurious rewards.”
Hmm. Yes, my secondary are disposable, in the sense that I do not need to protect them from their own story. Ordinary? Yes, I suppose, but less so than my main characters? Well, in Claire’s story, she says she is lucky, as all her characters are secondary. I think this is the way to go, even in genre fiction, even if your MC is Superman, because even Superman responded like an every day kind of man to Lois. I believe this is part of the key to having a believable character.
But, the question remains, do I know the whole story of my secondary characters? Do I want to know it? Would I then be forced to write a novel through their eyes, and tell the story that way?
This post is full of questions that I ask myself, so here is one for you:
How well do you know your secondary characters?