Monday, January 15, 2018

Tertiary Overload

So the concept for this week's article is tertiary characters that demand more attention.

"Jim, whatever do you mean?"

I mean characters whop aren't supposed to be overly significant, who decide otherwise as you're writing. Sounds crazy, right? But it happens, It happens a lot more than I like ot think about. Let me give you a perfect example. Bump. Bump is a knock off character. meaning that his sole purpose for existing when I created him was to be a name and a filler and the likelihood, especially in MY writing, is a short, lifespan with a violent death.

Yeah. Didn't happen.

In the first draft of FALLEN GOS (See picture below) Bump just went crazy. he went from being a smart ass character with a few lines to being THAT guy on the battlefield. Which Guy? THAT guy, the one who does absolutely insane shit because it strikes his fancy. In one scene, when all is lost and nothing is working, Bump grabs a horse, spurs it into action and leads it over a cliff, where the poor animal rolls down the too steep area and crushes several of the enemy under its weight before it dies. In his defense, the horse was old and lame. No one buys it. But he DID save the group with his antics. From that moment on, he tried to commandeer the novel. He stole scene after scene without any hesitation whatsoever.  (for the record, I do not condone animal violence, But I write fantasy set in a barbaric time, and barbarians, especially crazy ones, do their own thing.)

From then on Bump became a hero of the story.

Right up until my editor slapped some verbal sense into me.

Most of Bump's scenes of heroic madness were reassigned to the character they were supposed to come from in the first place, and he was pushed back down to tertiary character. For a moment he shined so very brightly. Then common sense prevailed.

it's not the first time that's happened and I pray it won't be the last.

Sometimes the mind does its own thing when you're writing, Sometimes that means the plot goes off the rails and other times it means that character who was just there to add to the body count screams "Screw you! I want to live!"

Happened in my first novel, too. by the way. I created a female character whose sole purpose was to torment our "hero" with mind games. She was supposed to die a horrible death. I did everything but put a shotgun to her head. I ran her over with a car. Still, she would not die. Instead, much to my surprise, she evolved. By the end of the tale she became a young woman of surprising strength who fell for one of the guys who was also meant to be a secondary character and both became important to the tale.

is there a moral tot his story?

Only this: Let your characters do their thing, If it goes to far, rein them in, but otherwise you can assume that your mind is finding ways to work on what it sees as a flaw in your tale. That may not work so well if you write rigid outlines, but since I don't I can take advantage of the situation from time to time.

On the new release front, this week sees the release of A HELL WITHIN the third of the Griffin & Price occult detective series, co-written with my buddy Charles R. Rutledge. Available in both ebook and trade paperback at

Also, BLOODSTAINED WONDERLAND, the very long awaited sequel to BLOODSTAINED OZ, came out on the January second. It's a limited edition (500 signed and numbered 15 signed and lettered) get 'em while they're hot from Earthling Publications.

That's it for this week! Keep smiling,