The Punishment Of A Secondary Character Getting Their Own Book

If you are a loyal follower of this blog, you’ve seen me opine/rant on how much I love plotting. I believe in it wholeheartedly. I write three and four book single title series. There are dozens of characters, big and small, that require wrangling, as well as multiple sub-plots and multi-book story arcs. Plotting is what makes all those things manageable. It prevents problems. I also believe that without prior plotting, something in your book will come back to bite you in the ass. And I have proof.

TrinaMeet Trina Trimble. The most delightfully ditzy character I’ve ever created. She played the sidekick, the comic relief to my heroine in Love At High Tide. Her over-the-top antics dragged them into equal parts trouble and fun. Here’s an example of a Trina-ism:

“Shhh. Watch those muscles ripple across his back. When was the last time you saw a guy that ripped in real life? We need to quietly admire all that flexing, golden skin. You know, like how you make me be quiet when we’re in art museums.”

Nobody sees rainbows in the middle of a Class Five hurricane like Trina. Logic and Trina were like oil and water. Able to mix briefly, but they never remained combined for very long. All great descriptions of a foil for a heroine, right?CARINA_0914_9781426898945_LoveOnTheBoardwalk

Except…I was idiotic enough to come up with an idea for a sequel. After I not only finished, but turned in Love at High Tide. Which meant it was too late to go back and make her less ditzy, less crazily spontaneous, less of a hot mess. My editor bought the sequel. And I was stuck writing a book with Trina as the heroine. Stuck coming up with strong-as-titanium motivations for her antics. A woman who decided to train as a private investigator so she’d have an excuse to dress up in disguises. A woman who wouldn’t know how to be cautious if her life depended on it…which it does.

“I swear, if a merman swam up right now, you’d hop right into the ocean with him. No questions asked.”

Entirely true. If life was going to toss a merman at her, why on earth would she waste time asking questions? Act first, think later. Some people might call that approach backward, but it always worked for Trina.

As you can tell by the above cover, I ended up finding a way to make Trina believable. Was it hard? You bet. Was she still side-splittingly funny? Of course. Did I learn from my mistake? Mostly. I do have a new series about rock stars where the drummer isn’t supposed to have a book. Of course, he’s a man-whore and lazy and hysterical…..oops – he might need his own book after all…

Have Courage and Be Imperfect

Cinderella movie poster

I love the whole Cinderella story. So when I saw the trailer for Disney’s latest version, I knew I had to see it. No, I’m not the target market for the film, but I never let a little thing like … Continue reading

You Want Whose Story?!

As I’ve said before, when I wrote Sharing Hailey, it wasn’t planned as the beginning of a series. The secondary characters were just that—secondary characters—not potential heroes and heroines. By the time I finished it, I knew I wanted to … Continue reading

Race, Romance and Representation

What "Big Brother" looks like in South Africa

Having lived for six years each in New York City and London, I thought I was no stranger to diverse, urban environments. But when I moved to Johannesburg, South Africa almost seven months ago, race became a whole new – … Continue reading

Managing Secondary Characters

Bonds Of Denial_Lynda Aicher

I’m in the process of writing the seventh book in my Wicked Plays series and I currently have over eighty-three different characters spread throughout the seven books. Eighty-three! With only fifteen of them being main characters. That’s a whole lot … Continue reading

Everybody In The Pool! Or Why I Lavish Attention On Secondary Characters


I adore secondary characters. From the very first book I wrote, I crammed them in there. And not as throw-aways, either. To me, the uniqueness of characters in terms of appearance, backstory, quirky expressions/gestures/crutch words, phrases they say, etc., is especially … Continue reading

Secondary But Not Second in Our Hearts

One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox

Secondary characters are one of our favourite parts of writing a story. Our heroes have to have certain arcs, they have to have personalities and quirks and flaws that fall within certain boundaries because they would be grating or cloying … Continue reading

Sequel Bait

Sometimes when I read a book, it’s kinda obvious to me that the author is setting up the secondary characters to have their own book. The most annoying being when minor plotlines are not resolved because best friend Joe Schmoe … Continue reading

Secondary Characters, Not Second-Class Citizens

Sleeping kitties

I love that our older, established cat, Isabel, has taken so well to the newer, younger one, Jackson. It makes for a harmonious household and they’re good company for each other. For Isabel, Jackson is her kittenish sidekick. He eggs … Continue reading