Tag Archives: characters

Stealing the First Chair

DM-NO On Facebook the other day I asked the question, “What story has your favorite secondary character, the one that really outshined the primary character?”. I got a whole slew of answers.

Fiona – On tv, it’d have to be Avon in Blake’s 7. He’s given all the best lines.

Nobilis – Nearly all of the secondary caracters in the Stephanie Plum novels are incredibly awesome, bug Grandma Mazur stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Rick – Game of Thrones: Tyrion and The Princess Bride: Inigo Montoya

Rebecca – The Shining

Mark – Wheel of Time. Mat was way cooler than Rand.

Chris – Probably “Sword of Truth” before Goodkind beat a dead horse with pulp.

Thomas – Lt. Dan!

Dan – Easy. Han Solo.

Wolf – (Almost) every single character in Scott Siglers Earthcore!

Steve – Brian Daley’s JINX ON A TERRAN INHERITANCE series. Alacrity Fitzhugh made those books awesome.

Chris – Harry Dresden has some of the best secondary characters ever. Bob, Susan, the Alphas, McCoy, Butters…

August – Thomas (Dresden Files) and (i)n Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, The Fool, although he becomes a much bigger character in later trilogies.

Scott aka “Jar Jar” – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace… that Jar Jar is a dreamboat.

Dave – The Scar, by China Mieville. I love the protag, but Uther Doul is hard to beat

Laura – Hmm, That’s a hard one Book, I would have to say Deborah from the Evolution series by Starla Huchton, TV show: Gajeel from Fairy Tail. Movie: The Irishman from Braveheart.

TwoStepsFromHellsmScott aka “Jar Jar” – Seriously though: In Raymond Feist’s first four books in the Riftwar series (Magician: Apprentice; Magician: Master; Silverthorn; and Darkness at Sethanon), Jimmy The Hand shines as my favorite. He (literally) steals the show.

Timothy – Hyperion by Dan Simmons is full of amazing characters.

Thomas – There’s always john smith, John smith, John smith, John smith, John smith, John smith & John smith from JC Hutchins 7th son novels.

James – Gurney from Dune. Especially played by Sir Patrick Stewart.

That’s quite the list. As an author I’ve had that happen I’m sure. One really interesting instance is from my book Two Steps from Hell. We get to know one character somewhat posthumously. When I got the chance to write a story for Dirty Magick: New Orleans, I decided I wanted to use the same universe in my story since it took place in New Orleans. I also decided that I wanted to use this dead character, Willie Evans, as my protagonist. Only I needed him to be alive. So I placed the story in TSfH’s past. In writing this story I fell in love with him even more. That makes me feel a little bad about his ultimate fate, but we all become worm food sooner or later. And this way I get to play with him for a little longer.

The goal for any writer, I believe, is to make all of your characters so rich and so real that you could tell your stories with any of them. You don’t want to outshine your protagonist. That does happen in some of the above stories. I’m thinking of one Scott Sigler story in particular (CHANG BANG!!). It also happens, in my opinion, in Patrick McLean’s How to Succeed in Evil, where the comic foil become my favorite. Thankfully the main character just shines in a different way.

Here’s a bit from my story “Stigmata” that will give you some insight into Willie:

He took a moment to look around. The ceiling was crazy high, and the benches were gorgeous things made of wrought iron. He walked past the font of holy water and dipped his fingers in. He flicked the water into his own face, hoping it would wake him up a little. “Hello? Anyone in here?” His words echoed back to him. The place was deserted. “Maybe I can catch a few winks and go to the nearest crowded cafe.” He still wasn’t sure why or who was chasing him. It could have been nothing more than his own personal demons, but drunk or straight he had never been this paranoid without reason.
If he could just spot who it was, he’d call his sister the detective. She’d ream him out in good fashion, but then she’d listen and maybe he could crash on her couch for a day or two while she looked into it. Until he could identify them, it wouldn’t do any good. She’d chalk it up to his penchant for telling stories and ask him when he was going to get his shit together.
Halfway down the center aisle, he saw the crucifix. They were the creepiest fucking things. Christians complained about Islam being a religion of violence, but they seemed to forget that a man on a massive torture device hung in the middle of theirs. He looked closely at the artifact. He’d always thought Christ was supposed to be naked. This guy was wearing all black. He had the crown of thorns and blood smeared face Willie always heard about, but the blood looked wet in the candlelight.
When he smelled blood and shit, he realized this particular torture victim was flesh and bone and not a wooden representation. Now he had a reason to call Helen. He just had to find a phone.

So, who’s your favorite second fiddle who jumped over to the first chair?


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Ginnie Dare: Blockade Runner – Snowflake Pt. 3

Step Three of the Snowflake – The Characters:

Virginia “Ginnie” Dare

  • DoB – August 18th, 2257 (Age 15)
  • Description – Black hair, dk. brown eyes, 1.75 m., slim build running to curves, dark skin
  • History – Born in space to a spacing family.
  • Marooned with an injured Jess, Ginnie needs to make sure they survive and discovers a plot to destroy a portion of the Rafe colony.
  • The character’s motivation – To become a more vital part of the ship/be seen as more of an adult.
  • The character’s goal – Survival of her team/the colony
  • The character’s conflict – The terrorists
  • The character’s epiphany – Becoming an adult can’t be rushed.
  • During a less than routine repair, Ginnie and Jess get marooned on Rafe 3 a large rocky satellite. Jess is injured and Ginnie needs to set up camp. While placing an encrypted radio beacon, she sees some activity on what is supposed to be an otherwise barren moon. She catches some local radio traffic that indicates these people are here for nefarious purposes. At first she thinks that they are plotting an attack on the Commonweatlh presence. After checking with Jess and doing some further investigation they find out that it’s the colony they want to attack. They will be targeting the space port that Helena is supposed to land on. The two women must stop the attack until they can get into radio contact with someone.

Jess Murphy

  • Description – Light brown hair cut short, hazel eyes, 1.5m wiry build, very pale skin, freckles
  • Jess must help Ginnie as best she can, while injured, to help Ginnie survive and to warn the Helena and or the authorities.
  • The character’s motivation – To help Ginnie grow.
  • The character’s goal – Survival
  • The character’s conflict – injury/terrorists
  • The character’s epiphany – What mistakes you can let someone make.
  • Jess calls on Ginnie to help her effect some repairs once they are past the blockade. It’s not part of her normal duties, but Ginnie’s expressed an interest in learning new things since she’ll be staying on board for a while. The pod they’re working on becomes damaged and ejects from the ship taking the two women with it. They’re close to the moon and use the tools they have to guide the pod and its contents safely to the surface. She’s injured in the process and must guide Ginnie through getting a shelter set up and a radio beacon. Then she must also help her deal with the terrorists.

Nuchtchas – President of Rafe

  • Description – Long straight black hair with a green streak, blue eyes, 1.63 m curvaceous, milky skin
  • Nuchtchas is leading her people in a secession and they’ve hired the Dares to help deliver some supplies.
  • The character’s motivation – A successful and peaceful secession from the Commonwealth.
  • The character’s goal – Getting the supplies necessary to make that happen.
  • The character’s conflict – The Commonwealth and the Liberation Movement.
  • The character’s epiphany – She will realize that the cost of freedom can often be too high.
  • Called by her people to break from the commonwealth, Nuchtchas wants to do so as peacefully as possible. Long time friends with Walter Dare, she hires his company to deliver data, some raw materials, and necessary fuel to take them through what may be a long siege. If the first one goes well there may be more and if the secession is successful a lucrative contract is guaranteed. She’s caught between negotiating with the blockade and keeping her people happy. They’re in the third month and getting restless. She’s aware of the small minority involved in the Liberation from but is unaware of what they’re willing to do.

John Wilkerson – Leader of the Liberation Movement

  • Description – Crewcut sandy hair, greenish brown eyes, 1.7, thin build
  • He believes that Nuchtchas is a weak leader and that decisive action is necessary to throw off the shackles of the Commonwealth.
  • The character’s motivation – Separation from the Commonwealth and its eventual downfall.
  • The character’s goal – Freedom for Rafe and the presidency.
  • The character’s conflict – Ginnie and Jess
  • The character’s epiphany – Don’t mess with the Dares.
  • John has long been dissatisfied with Commonwealth rule. He believes that Rafe’s abundant mineral resources belong to the people first and foremost. He also believes that the Commonwealth is holding all of the colonies back. He has a small loyal team behind him. If achieving his goals cost lives, even his own, he believes that it’s worth it (though he won’t risk his own unnecessarily). He is personally overseeing operations on the moon and will try and cause as little collateral damage as possible he knows the Dares are coming and will try and make it look like the Dares are in collusion with the Commonwealth and brought a bomb in to destroy the space dock. In one of the pods there is just such a bomb placed there by one of his allies outside the blockade.

Colonel Ed Delaney – In charge of Commonwealth blockade “Operation Hydra”

  • Description – Bushy silver hair, light blue eyes, 2.1 m, stocky
  • Delaney is near the end of his career and wants this last mission to be his final gold star.
  • The character’s motivation – a glorious retirement
  • The character’s goal – To bring Rafe back into the fold.
  • The character’s conflict – Both the liberation front and the legitimate government are doing everything they can to stop him.
  • The character’s epiphany – Doing the right thing is more important than glory
  • Delaney is given this final assignment – do what it takes to bring Rafe back in to the Commonwealth. Equal parts military leader and diplomat, he’s a powerful personality. He arrived with the blockade three months ago and has regular contact with the presidency. He has agents on Rafe feeding him information and knows more about the LF than Nuchtchas does, though not about the attack. He and Nuchtchas have become fairly friendly thanks to regular calls, but he is as unrelenting as his superiors. They will not break the blockade under any circumstances.

Legendary Idea

I’ve talked about this a little before, but I’ve had a new story come out since then and talking to James Durham and his family has me a little amped, so I’m laying it out here for you. I’ve put out three stories in my Children of Legend series so far. They’re all intended to be prequels and as such aren’t fully intended to stand alone, but I hope they do. I want them to give you a taste of the universe and they characters in it. I want to make these young people as realistic as you can make any protagonist and perhaps more so than you might get in some YA fiction. Let me tell you a little about them, perhaps a little more than you’ll get in the stories to date, in hopes that I’ll whet your appetite.

Marcus Killian Feaney, aka Mark, is the protagonist in “X Marks the Spot”. I identify quite a bit with this young man. Raised by a single mom, he led a largely unremarkable life until he went digging in the woods one day. What he uncovered there gave him important, but very subtle powers over the people and environment around him. He’s a bit of a brain thief, stealing intelligence from those around him and using it for himself. He also has low powered telekinesis, able to lift and finely manipulate objects under five pounds. Mark is an idealist, or so he would have you believe. He’s of the opinion that the world can be shaped into a utopia and he’s just the boy to do it. He’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Maria Perez gets introduced in “Here, There Be Dragons”. Saved from a local gang by her kindly boss, she is given a great deal of power when she takes the form of the Tarasque. Surrounded by gang violence, she lost a number of friends and family members and is determined to use her power where the authorities can’t or won’t. I’ve often called her my universe’s Batman.

The most recent character to be introduced is Ross “Rose” Covington in “Compass Rose”. A transgender teen, Rose is the white knight of the bunch. She stands up to a bully and ends up in the hospital for her trouble. The mysterious alien boxes that granted all three people their powers gives her control over the perception of reality. She can produce illusions of incredible beauty and can pierce any deception presented to her. She’s wary of her abilities though and is reluctant to use them for fear of what they could turn her into.

There’s a fourth character that hasn’t joined the trio yet. I have his story in the back of my mind. The young immigrant, brought to our shores against his wishes, will have to figure out how to survive in a strange land. Being invisible socially and physically will help him, but only to a degree.

All three stories are available on Smashwords for whatever you’d like to pay for them or on Amazon for $.99. My plan is to release a story every month in 2012. Each of these characters will get three tales, somewhere in the ten to twelve thousand word range. I’ll stagger who gets the spotlight and each one of the stories will be stand alone, but be part of an over all “seasonal” arc. I’d also like to release these as a podcast, though when that happens will be up in the air.

Wish me luck and have a look at what I have out so far!

Chasing Monte and Molly

Ed and I have been talking and here’s a soft game plan. We want to work on M&M in the background for the next six weeks or so, releasing little nibbles like this. Then come December we’ll be gearing up our Kickstarter. I envision a softcover book (maybe a few hardcovers for special supporters) being the end result as well as an e-book version and maybe an app. If you’re a developer who’d be interested in joining us in the chase drop me a line.

As we get closer the the Kickstarter we’d love you to help us spread the word, but don’t wait til then. Share these posts with friends. And if you’d like to have one or both of us on your blog or podcast to talk about our entrance into the world of children’s books then I think that can be arranged!

Monte – Draft Two

Mom and Dad are busy a lot, so mostly it’s just me, Molly, and Cyril. We go all kinds of places and see things other kids never believe. Cyril taught me real sword fighting, but he says I can’t have a real sword until I’m thirteen. That’s a long way away, but I can make do with Glamdring until then. I’m not scared of much. I can’t swim too good, but I’m learning. I don’t like school much, but we’re takin’ a year off for travellin’ and Cyril will be our tutor too. I don’t think I’ll get bored.

Molly – Draft Two

Molly Draft Two

My brother’s a little spastic, but I love him. He thinks he’s King Arthur, and it’s kinda cute. The main thing that gets on my nerves is he jumps first and thinks later.

I like working on anything with wires or gears and my favorite thing to do is make something work differently than it’s s’posed to do. Like I made a clock that told you what time it wasn’t. Anyone can fix a clock, but can you make a clock that flashes a new random time every second?

Lucky and Company

These are the characters that will appear in Lucky’s story.

Helenica “Lucky” Goldenstein – Security expert extraordinaire. Human, 1.7m, lightly built, dark brown hair, light brown skin, well trained in a variety of weapon and non-weapon combat arts, good reputation for protecting “sketchy” cargo both personally and as the head of a security team

Meredith Matthews – AI that controls the intraspace communications network. “Mer” is more than a little mad. She fancies herself a human soul implanted in the ‘net. She’s able to handle the data transfer for the known “settled” galaxy though and no one’s found a way to get her out…yet.

Dave Avila – Captain of the freight hauler “Pugnacious” Human, 1.6m, stocky, short cropped steel gray hair, ex-space marine, built his ship into a successful business that handles high risk cargo

Richard Asplund Jr. – In charge of the station police unit on Bifrost, an orbital in the Upsilon Andromedae System, Human, 1.9m, Long blond hair, pale, pure law dawg with a soft spot for Lucky

Brand Gamblyn – Engineer on the freight hauler “Pugnacious”, Theonid (a gaseous life form, able to interact thanks to a sort of reverse scuba gear, excellent techs especially on FTL class ships), 1.8m in suit, intelligent, worked on Marine class ships with Capt. Avila and joined his crew upon retirement

Martyn Noire – 1.4m, Vregonian (amphibioid), looks roughly like a humanoid black newt, Agent for the NHSC (Non-Human Sapient Collective, not their name for it but the closest translation) a sort of reverse “Indian Agent” trained to interact in and investigate human affairs for the NHSC

Dave “Aces” Minkus – Human, 1.45m, black hair, gray eyes, vaguely Asian features A fixer/loan shark/font of information on Bifrost, Lucky frequently uses him to get jobs

Jeanette Marsh – Ofc. Asplund’s deputy, 1.3m, red hair, rail thin, crack shot

Mae Breakall – Human, 2m, Pink hair, milk white skin (not albino), Owner of Mae’s Chop house restaurant, bar, and brothel

Jen Avila – Human, 1.4m, Brown curly hair, green eyes, astrogater/first officer on the “Pugnacious” and the Captain’s wife

Estevene – The ship’s AI for the “Pugnacious” prone to breaking out in song (usually Spike Jones) at a moment’s notice, but otherwise very functional, Capt. Avila is constantly threatening to reprogram him, but never will

John Wilkerson – Human, 1.7m, Close cut brown hair shot trough with gray, hazel eyes, This Sector’s martial

Justin Lowmaster – Vregonain 2.2m, greenish, heavily mottled skin, consul on Bifrost, an older member of their warrior class, has a reputation for being a bit of a drunk and cultivates that, but very canny

Taylor Kent – Human, 1.7m portly, bald, vat grown eyes solid silver, Dock master for Bifrost , Takes no BS and knows everything that goes through the port.

Alison Day – Human, 1.45m, shoulder length white hair (though not from age), blue eyes The primary physician on the Bifrost, though there are robotic doctors, people still want that “human touch” so she performs primarily a human interface function and occasionally actual medical procedures

Mike Plested – Human, 1.75m, swept back graying hair, marathon runner’s build, a bit obsessed with appearance/health, The on site representative for the Decagon Mining Corporation, he’s part mayor, part CEO, part used car salesman. Mike is very upbeat and has a reputation for being a really nice guy, almost too nice.

Jeff Hite – Human, 1.8m Black, shoulder length hair, blue eyes, prominent scar on rt jawline, well built, Hired gun/bodyguard for Mr. Plested. Doesn’t care much for Lucky as they’ve crossed paths more than once.

Sid Faiwu – Vregonian, 1.1m, Bright red with black spots, Sid is the closest thing that Vregonians have for a holy man/shaman. They don’t worship a god per se but believe in a collective unconcious among their people and they are more in touch with that. Things that go against their philosophy are said to mar the collective and that’s the closest thing to a sin. Since most Vregonians don’t believe that other races are as evolved as they are there is nothing that you could do to them that would be marring. This belief system is on the wane.

John Payne

Ben Wassink

William Paul