A considerable benefit to taking my writing career on an extended trip through various social media is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. Writing can be solitary and full of angst but those people who ease the journey are so appreciated. Thank you, Donna, for inviting me to your blog today!
Finding Secondary Characters Who Rock Your Fiction.
Have you ever learned something about someone from the past which absolutely makes them come to life in the present? Have you used them in your conversation with friends? Or maybe you’ve written about them.
Colonel John Butler was such a character for me.
History will tell you that he led Butler’s Rangers and fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War, distinguishing himself so much that his name is still revered in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. And across the border you will also read about him but with a different slant derived from his fighting against the Americans. History is ever thus, written with special nuances and colorings depending on who is telling the story.
Nevertheless researching Colonel Butler was a pleasure for me as I am twice related to members of his Rangers. That explains my personal interest but when I started to delve into this man’s life I learned personal details which made him come off the page for me and helped me draw him as a distinctive minor character in The Loyalist’s Wife.
My main characters, John and Lucinda, came mostly from out of my head. With the Colonel, however, I found that he was short, rather rotund, had a bit of a speech peculiarity, and wasn’t afraid to stand up for his beliefs. These characteristics I put to good use in my book, bringing him to life. He had a way of repeating parts of his sentences, words or phrases, which made his direct speech very different from any of the other characters, a gift to me as a writer.
“I need you here, Garner. Do you not think every man here has a story about his family? Most of them know their wives and children have been captured, killed or worse and, still, they fight, they fight on to save this country from those patriots. Patriots.” He spat in the spittoon. “They’re ruffians. Just lowborn ruffians. And that Washington doesn’t know, doesn’t know what he’s doing, leading his gang against the British. Against the British. The best army in the world.” He sat at the small desk and stared into space.
The silence grew. John watched the colonel’s lined face and hunched shoulders atop that corpulent body. He sat short behind the desk. He would not be intimidating at all were it not for his flashing eyes. Butler’s brow was creased and his set jaw clenched his remaining teeth. The man’s face softened as, once more, he focused on John.
The next time you’re reading a great book look closely at the various characters’ dialogue. Try to see how the writer used each character’s manner of speech to show unique details. And if they were actually real people, feel how much better you know who they might have been.
The Loyalist’s Wife:
When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.
With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.
Elaine blogs at On Becoming a Wordsmith which may be found at www.elainecougler.com. She also is frequently found here: @ElaineCougler, Facebook/ElaineCouglerAuthor, and LinkedIn author groups. The Loyalist’s Wife is available on Amazon (print and e-book) and Kobo (e-book). www.amazon.com www.kobo.com