For the moment I have
chosen to write about romance, wicked, wonderful and weak at the knees romance,
so why would I be talking about extras and more to the point, what the heck are
they? No man is an island, right? I wish I had said that but I didn’t so I am
grateful to get the chance to use it as it encompasses exactly what I
mean. Extras are the added characters in
the narrative, and so much more.
I read an article by Anna Campbell (click on the name if you
want to read the whole article as I have linked it for you and if interested
her web site is found at the bottom of this post.) in Writing Queensland and in it she likens the
use of extras to ‘juggling twenty priceless Meissen plates –
when catching things isn’t my forte’, and she goes on to tell us she hates
writing those scenes but she also wants us to ‘remember secondary characters
are heroes in their own stories. This helps you keep a grip on conflicts and
emotional currents’. It struck a cord with me and I have taken this
to mean that secondary characters in their often small way keep the reader
connected to the main characters. Leads often need the distance created by the
other person’s presence to allow the reader the chance to see them in a
different light, heighten understanding of what they are feeling and in general
contribute more than we realise. Most
particularly secondary characters serve a purpose in crowd scenes, hence the use of the word extra.
thought about this quite a bit. All too
often when we write about events in books we mention other characters and the
situation but a lot of us do it in a tell not show manner. This is often a shame because the reactions of the
extra can often draw real attention to the drama just by their placement in the
room. This leads to us then having to be
careful about continuity. We have to remember
positioning because our readers will. I
have often questions things and often wish I didn’t notice details but I know as reader we do. The
secondary character can often shed light on a subject through dialogue with another
secondary character. If we use this strategy carefully it can add so much interest to a scene.
you are wondering why this has me so fascinated? Well reading this article got me
thinking about my writing. In my novel the majority of
dialogue and action is with my main characters.
I had to ask myself then would the reader get a real sense of who they
are, and what has made them the way they are.
My novel is part of a series so I can fill in gaps as we go but as each novel has its own hero and heroine I don't want to concentrate too much on the leads of the first novel in this way. I don't want to detract in any way from our new leads. But, let’s face it, even people falling into love or lust have
families, friends, work mates, neighbours and the odd acquaintance, and these
extras are what give our leading ladies and men added depth. Did I think about this in Unexpected Obsession?
I do use a lot of extras in
my first book and will probably continue to do so but what if others don't deem it necessary? Kay, a team member in this blog is
particularly ruthless about this and as my beta reader I had to consider her
thoughts and opinions. In the end though
I did keep most of mine. Lia, my heroine
and star of my novel Unexpected Obsession
is what she is because of the relationships in her life, as is Nico. He is more difficult, more solitary in many
ways and also very dogmatic so with this in mind and knowing some may not like
him (love yes, like no) I give insight into his mind through a dialogue he has
with one of his few friends.
Having sent off to the publisher I am now
wondering if maybe I should also have given consideration to placing them in
crowds a little more and given that scenario more power by showing and not
telling. I have to stop now or I will drive me crazy.
It will be interesting to see
reader reaction if I am lucky this time with the publisher. I live in great hope because more and more I
am falling in love with this medium.
Writing, a pain and a pleasure but always so interesting.