I’m writing a trilogy – about two brothers discovering that there is a third member of their family. While Ben was the hero of the first book, Slow Ride Home, it meant introducing Jake, the hero of book two in a secondary role.
It meant I had to figure him out before he got his own story. The same with the hero for book 3 – there’s a bit of a mystery about who it is in Slow Ride Home, and while some people have read it already, I’ll not tell you here. Which means I need to keep a lot of notes of what I’ve already written about them all. Because I know I’ll be referring to them again.
A lot of times my brain seeds things into a secondary characters’ actions that I don’t understand at the time. But then later, when I go to write his (or her) story, I have an “oooh, maybe he…” moment. Which happened a lot with Jake, and took his character in directions I hadn’t planned in my original proposal to my editor.
Here are a couple scenes including Jake that that left unintended hints for his story:
Copyright© 2013 Leah Braemel, Slow Ride Home
Considering they had a cook who made dinner for the hands every night, it was Jake’s own fault if he hadn’t eaten. Ha, he snorted to himself, pot meet kettle.
“I haven’t had any dinner myself. Next time bring your own food instead of taking mine. And where the hell have you been? Did you turn your damned phone off? I’ve been trying to reach you all frickin’ day.”
“I was out fixing the pump—you know there’s no cell coverage out there.” Jake cracked open his beer and took a long drink.
“You were out there this late?”
“No.” Jake drew the word out to three syllables. “I had to run into Joshua Falls and meet up with Cam.”
“And you couldn’t check your messages? I needed to talk to you.”
“I got distracted, okay?”
Figured. Jake was always getting distracted. Usually by a tight pair of blue jeans on some blinged-out waitress.
Followed by a later scene
“Speak of the devil.” Ben frowned. “Wonder what brings him out this way.”
Ben’s brother Jake pulled his quad to a stop once he was level with them. Ignoring his mutt as it greeted Ben’s two dogs in the usual fashion, Jake turned his hat so the brim covered his eyes. Despite the shadows, she got the distinct impression he was sizing her up.
He’d gone from a skinny teen to a full-grown man since she’d last seen him. Where Ben kept his hair trimmed short, Jake’s brushed the top of his shoulders. Where Ben had his father’s blond hair and reddish beard, Jake had his mother’s chestnut hair. He also had his mother’s mouth, which on Cissy was soft and feminine, but on him, it worked.
Though she wasn’t sure why she felt the need to brace herself, Allie took a deep breath. “Hello, Jake. It’s good to see you again.”
“Hey, Allie. How you doing?” His gaze swung to his brother. “Nice to see you didn’t take Logan’s advice to heart.” At Ben’s flinch, Allie wondered what Logan’s advice had been. “Have you seen Jason or Seth around? I can’t find them.”
“I set them to clearing the brush out by that new stock pond we dug the other day. They should still be there.”
As they discussed the missing greenhorns and some of the other chores that needed to be done, Allie picked up the stick one of the dogs had hopefully dropped at her feet and threw it. Though they were both equal owners of Bull’s Hollow, Allie wondered at the way Ben talked to his brother. It wasn’t that he treated Jake like a hired hand or bossed him around, she realized. But he was definitely taking charge of the conversation, acting as if Jake wasn’t as involved in the decision making. From the way Jake responded, he was happy with the relationship though. Guess it was better than having too many cooks in the kitchen.
When the dog dropped the stick at her feet and nudged her, she realized Ben and Jake had walked away. Though she couldn’t hear what they were saying, Ben’s expression was rigid, his shoulders tight. Whatever they were talking about was stressing him. The tension didn’t ease when Jake climbed on the ATV.
“See you later, Allie.” Despite his pleasant tone to her, Jake shot a glare at his brother, then, his jaw clenched, took off along the path to the ranch’s main yard.
Okay, maybe Jake wasn’t happy with Ben being in charge.
* * *
Lots to work with for Jake here, like what was he really doing in town? Is there a woman he’s already romancing? Or does he have something else going on that he doesn’t tell Ben about? I have to admit, Jake was fun to write. Jake’s story, No Accounting for Cowboys comes out in May, by the way.
And occasionally I write a secondary character with no intention that he’d get his own book. Then readers start asking “What about XXYY? When does he get his story?”
That’s what happened with Logan from Slow Ride Home. When we were discussing his character during edits, my editor specifically asked if I planned to write his story later. At the time I said no, that I couldn’t see him being someone the readers would identify with enough to want to read more about him. Ha! Of all the characters in my books, Logan is the one everyone’s asking for. But will he get his own book? I don’t know yet. Maybe…