by Ashlee Mallory
About halfway though writing the first draft of my new release, Love You Madly, I found myself stumbling a bit, trying to figure out what was missing from the story, what magical element had I forgotten that was slowing down my book’s progress? It was only in taking a couple of days off, reminding myself what makes a story more compelling to me that I realized what I’d been missing, what was keeping me from loving my story more and understanding my characters better…
I’d forgotten to include a full cast of interesting, sometimes quirky, and oftentimes annoying secondary characters. Characters that would play off my main characters and give me a deeper understanding of who they are. Because, let’s face it, our friends and family—and sometimes even the place we live—often define and enrich us, for better or worst, and make us the people we are. I believe the same thing goes for good fictional characters, too.
What would Gilmore Girls have been like without Sookie, Kirk, Paris, or any of the other eccentric characters? Or the Proposal without Ramone, the island’s jack-of-all trades, or Annie, the eccentric but lovable grandmother? Or Bridget Jones without her zany parents and colorful friends? Probably all decent stories with great main characters—hello, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds?—but I believe it was the secondary characters that enriched the stories and made them all the more memorable and enduring.
As a writer with two ongoing series, a sweet contemporary romance series and a romantic suspense series, I try to bring those fun and enriching characters to each and every book. Not that this isn’t without its challenges. Particularly in the mystery and suspense stories, where it’s important to balance the romance to the suspense just right; finding where you can drop in some fun moments with those secondary characters without veering off too far from the main story can be an added challenge.
But in the end, the extra time it takes to carve out and develop those secondary characters is well worth it. After all, where would Elle Woods have been without Paulette? Maverick without Goose? As a writer, a reader, and avid movie and television watcher, I know my favorite stories wouldn’t be the same.
How about you? Who are some of your favorite secondary characters from any medium, be it from a book or your favorite romcom?
Love You Madly
by Ashlee Mallory
Release date: May 16, 2015
Meredith Sanders was the golden girl in high school—a homecoming queen with a trail of worshipping minions. Now she’s all grown up with a trail of failed marriages. The only good thing she has in her life is her brilliant and beautiful teenaged step-daughter…who’s missing. But the best man for the job has a serious hate-on for her.
Back in high school, queen bee Meredith made Travis Brennan’s life miserable. Since then, he’s gone from class geek to a hardened, former SEAL, specializing in private security. As much as he wants to help Meredith’s step-daughter, he can’t help but clash with the gorgeous woman who once made his life hell.
But as they investigate the increasingly mysterious disappearance, their conflicted past threatens to turn into a very provocative present…