Saturday, January 20, 2018

Cook and Caravan Master - Tertiary Characters?

Chef Stephanie was first introduced in this book
I write in two genres primarily – science fiction romance (SFR) and Ancient Egyptian paranormal romance. I have a fantasy romance series started but it’s certainly not my primary focus.

Our topic this week is so-called ‘tertiary’ characters and do they ever try to take over a story?

In the SFR, I write pretty lean, with my focus on the hero and heroine and the dilemma they’re in. I might have a few secondary characters, especially if the novel is set on my Nebula Zephyr luxury cruiseliner (interstellar spaceship variety).  The ship has an entire crew obviously, not to mention a rotating set of passengers, but we’ve not met most of them. There are strong secondary characters, like Security Officer Red Thomsill and his fiancée Meg Antille, but they were the lead characters in their own novel  before moving to the Nebula Zephyr. An example of a tertiary character on the ship, I guess, might be the Executive Chef, Stephanie. She’s been in a few of the novels for a scene or two, and was the lead in my special Thanksgiving short story, but for the most part she’s in the background, cooking up those terrific five star meals the cruise line boasts about. Will she get her own plot someday? Maybe…but at this point I don’t have an idea for her. She’s certainly never tried to take over the story.

In the ancient Egyptian series I’m more likely to have tertiary characters because I’m dealing with a powerful Pharaoh and his court, as well as the entire pantheon of Egyptian gods, any of whom could show up in a book at any point. (Ancient deities are like that!) But again, none of them try to take over the book. They might find themselves appearing in other books where I hadn’t necessarily expected to place them but where they fit the narrative. A good example of this would be Caravan Master Ptahnetamun, who first appeared in Dancer of the Nile. He showed up again in Magic of the Nile and just recently in Lady of the Nile. (Yes, I am quite stuck on “of the Nile” as part of my book titles LOL.) He comes onstage for a few scenes where he’s needed and exits gracefully, never demanding his own story arc.

As others have said this week in discussing their characters, I do assume any or all of mine have a full, rich life going on, with all kinds of events and milestones…but none of that detail is needed for my story. Or at least not right now.


Honestly, it’s not something I worry about when I’m writing a book!

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