Saturday, September 8, 2012

Oh, You Meant That Kind of Fringe...

This month we're talking about characters on the fringes.

I'm finding this to be a bit of a tough topic. The first place my mind jumps to is here...


Yeah, because fringe is fun.

But I don't think that's exactly what you had in mind LOL! So, what do I think about fringe when it comes to YA characters?

Something has come to my attention as I've been revising. I tend to under develop my supporting characters. I've been assuming that this was simply part of the layering process. I figured that I just  hadn't quite gotten "there" yet, but now I'm not so sure. As I'm working on THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY, I'm wondering if the truth is that I keep them on the fringes on purpose.

When I pick a story to write, I like to take the bull by the horns. I know what issues I'm going to explore. I know what I'm trying to find out by writing this particular story. I make a conscious decision to take a very specific journey with a very specific character--my MC. We become traveling buddies who mostly have the same itinerary. But with my supporting characters--not so much. We don't negotiate our travel plans ahead of time. They have secret lives that I haven't really had time to ponder. They show me things that I hadn't expected to look at.

I think I'm a little bit afraid of them. It's possible that I work hard to keep them at an arms length, where they can't overwhelm me by who they are and what they need.

But in order to write a rich and fulfilling book, they can't stay there forever. So my goal as I work to revise, is to engage with those characters on the fringes. To discover who they are and what they can teach me. To open myself up to meeting new people instead of just hanging with the usual crowd. Because book life--writer life--can be just as hard to navigate as real life. But don't rule out how much better you'll feel if you just wear a little fringe from time to time.

How do you deal with the diversity of your supporting characters?


10 comments:

  1. Love this post! My supporting characters often surprise me, taking the story in a direction I never would have considered...but that's part of the fun, right? ;-)

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  2. GREAT angle for this theme, Kim! Once I get to the point that I feel like my supporting characters could probably star in their own novels, I figure I've finally developed them just enough...

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    1. Ohhhh that's a great way to think about it. *jots that down*

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  3. I actually love supporting characters. To me, the critical thing is that they have their own agendas and their own lives; they don't exist just to serve the main character.

    But I like to have their stories reflect on the main theme. Either these secondary characters represent the road not taken (they had the same options as the main character, but went in the other direction), or they are competing for the same thing the MC wants, or they have figured out something that they MC hasn't figured out yet, or--there's some way in which their storylines add depth and variety to the MC's journey. I always like to point out that the MC's road is not the only possible road.

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    1. "...the critical thing is that they have their own agendas and their own lives; they don't exist just to serve the main character." Love this!

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  4. Great outfit! Supporting characters are important. For me there's that fine line between them being too flat and one-dimensional or taking over the story.

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  5. Haha, love that kind of fringe! And yes, I have the same problem with supporting characters. But like you, I'm trying to push myself to get to know them a bit better.

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  6. You have reason to be afraid. My supporting characters like to take over, and I have to beat them back with a stick. Seriously, they all want to steal the show.

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  7. Damn it, you used the fringe joke I was planning on using.

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