Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stealing the Show



Credit for Picture

*First of all, the winner of Pitch Black is Theresa Milstein-Congrats! I'll be sending you an email*

What do you do if your secondary characters are developing so nicely that they are stealing the show from the MC's?!

I'm right in the middle of my WIP (49,000 words) and I needed sub plots to keep my story going. That's all fine and good, but my characters from my subplots are taking over. I love how they have so many flaws, because I tried to make them not as likeable as the MCs. But their flaws have made them more interesting and given them more room to grow, and they are turning into better people and learning from their mistakes! Imagine that?

So, has this happened to you in your books? How can I make my MC take the stage back again?

28 comments:

Theresa Milstein said...

Hooray! I can't believe I won. Thanks, Aubrie.

This is a good question that I haven't thought much about. What about looking to Harry Potter? J.K. Rowling paints the most colorful characters, but they don't take away from Harry. Is it because there are too many and they have small parts?

What about Alice and Wonderland? You don't get more interesting than anyone but Alice. So why does Alice get center stage? We are entertained by the others, but we care about her most of all. Maybe it's the same with Harry too.

If you set your MC up as the one we root for in the beginning, those who support her will only make her look better, and those who are against her will cause your readers to stick with your MC.

Hope this helps. I'd be happy to take a look and give you my impressions.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I've had this happen to me. Took me a couple of chapters until I realized the secondary character was taking over. I had to delete a lot of pages and focus on the protagonist more. I hate it when that happens. Nice to know I'm not alone. Hope to see you at the conference.

Saumya said...

Hey!!

Congrats to your contest winner!

Also, I think that sometimes appearance speaks louder than conflict. It's wonderful that your subplots are interesting; it'll only make your work more enjoyable to the reader. But if the MC is simply seen more, if the MC's thoughts are displayed more, and that conflict is focused on the most...it will naturally have the MC take center stage.

Kaylie said...

That's hard--not getting lost in your subplots. I think you have to focus on just one or two aspects of your secondary characters, whereas you can develop your MC much more fully. Sometimes I've needed to drop something, but so far unnecessary plot threads end up fizzling out on their own.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

If your secondary characters emerge strongly into the forefront of your novel - let them. What would Kirk be without Spock? Sometimes the novel is better for a group effort rather than a solo flight.

I know you are a flutist, so you may like John Two-Hawks flute playing in my music video of a tune by NIGHTWISH where he played a major role. I think you will enjoy it. And it ties in with a secondary character making a performance, novel or concert, better for standing out. Roland

Alexandra Crocodile said...

Hi:) I'm your newest follower!

But I relate to your problem - it happens to me all the time. Ususally, since it's the first draft, I just let them get on with it - you never know what might happen!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yep, this has happened to me. I don't try to curtail my secondary character, but fortunately she's not in the majority of the book. Plus, she helps add dimension to my mc based on their interactions.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Yes, this has happened to me as well. I give them a little leeway but in the end, it isn't their story and I curb them back.

Talli Roland said...

Congrats to Theresa!

Oh yes, this has happened to me! What do I do? I usually insert more scenes with that character's POV, or elongate the one I have to make it clear that this is who the story really is about!

Southpaw said...

I have not had that problem yet. I haven’t developed the subplots yet. I wrote in the placeholders for where they come in I but haven’t explored them fully.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Maybe cut back slightly on your secondary characters and reason with them -- promise them a book of their own. Maybe then they'll cooperate more.

Kat Harris said...

Absolutely.

I have one character that I added on a whim in the last third of one of my stories, and she was so vivid, interesting, show-stealing...I went back and gave her a bigger role. I don't regret it.

Cherie Reich said...

Threaten to kill them off. That's how you deal with them. I'm just kidding!

I haven't had that come up yet in my novels, although there are a few characters I wouldn't mind learning more about and see where they take me.

Jackee said...

Congrats to Theresa!

I HAVE had that happen before. In my case, my 2ndary characters were too unique and interesting compared to the MC. I had to switch things around and give the MC more unique traits. This still happens to me when I make the comic relief only the supporting characters.

And congrats on the solar panels--so very jealous--I definitely want some! :o) Happy Earth Day!

Jen said...

Congratulations to Theresa! How exciting!!!

Theresa also has a great point, J.K. Rowling does an excellent job with her characters and making sure they all get their own time!

I didn't have this problem, in fact I've had the opposite problem, my character pushed all her friends away, so now I'm going to have to pull them back in to not make her seem so isolated!!

Good Luck with your scenario!!

Susan Fields said...

Congrats to Theresa - hooray!

Promise the secondary characters their own future novel - maybe then they'll back off.

Dawn Hullender said...

There's an award for you over at my place ;-)

Instead of letting your secondary characters take over in your WIP, why not write a sequel so that they can shine?

Just sayin'.

Tracy said...

Hmmm, I haven't come across that particular dilemma, but I'm looking forward to hearing how you deal with it so I can file it away for the future (because now that I've written that, it's bound to happen the next time I sit down to write, haha).

Jess of All Trades said...

I've had that problem...my villain in a story awhile back was way more interesting then anyone else. At least to me, because he had a lot of problems (obviously).
Recall how your secondary characters work with your main character. How their problems can Relate to your main character. And since it's a first draft...maybe reconsider Who your protagonist really is.

A workshop teacher once suggested that your protagonist is the person in the most pain; or those who go through the most change..

Food for thought. Maybe your MC Does need more flaws :D We like to watch people overcome.

Carol Kilgore said...

Usually one of my secondary characters takes on a large role because he or she is a little quirky. I try to work those quirks so they play up some part of the protagonist's character. I hope that makes sense.

Julie Dao said...

Oh yeah, it happens to me all the time! I just go with the flow and cut back at the end. The story needs to be about the MC, after all :)

Kathy McIntosh said...

Loved the comments, and the question.
Secondary characters can do things the MC can't, but might want to.
If the story is in the protagonist's POV, then everything we know about those secondary characters is through his/her eyes and reveals much about his or her character.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Cool! Maybe you have a series on your hands :) Best of luck with it!!!!!

Tahereh said...

ooo! what a cool question!! i have to say i'm not sure, though. i've never quite had that problem -- but perhaps that character deserves a larger role in the book if he/she is shining so brightly?

best of luck with everything! i'm sure you'll find the perfect solution :D

Saumya said...

Hii!! I've got an award for you over at my blog :)

Amy Jo Lavin said...

One of the first people who read my completed manuscript told me that she liked a secondary character more than my MC's love interest! I'm still revising that manuscript, but I definitely have to go back and compare the two to see why the wrong guy was more compelling.

Lisa Rusczyk said...

That happened to me while writing A Dream of the Past. I had so many other characters than my main one and I became particularly fond of one named Nakkir.... So the second book, I decided, would focus mostly on him. Meanwhile, in the first book I just enjoyed making Nakkir shine as he wanted to. The people I know who read the book also liked him more, but felt the main character kept the story in one piece.

Valerie Wangnet said...

Congrats! Wonderful blog

Regards
Val