No secret here, but I love to tinker in the kitchen. I especially like to try my hands at soups. Why? Because my husband LOVES soup. That man will eat soup everyday until the pot is empty.
Here's one of the things I've learned about soup. You have to layer in the flavors.
You start with your butter/olive oil heating in your pot. To this you add your Mirepoix--a mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery. After sauteing this until the onions are translucent, you usually add your meat. Then your wine and finally your stock. You must season with salt and pepper as you add each component, just a touch though. Always tasting to be sure you've seasoned correctly. Bring it all to a boil then you reduce the pot to a simmer, allowing the contents to mix, mingle, grow and change. Each element has an affect on the other.
Writing has the same process.
Butter/oil: You start with your story idea. That is the movement, the beginning of your process.
Mirepoix: You add your plot. This is the spot where you have a solid base of flavors on which your story must build.
Meats: Main characters. Your hero, heroine, antagonist. Those elements that give your story its uniqueness. Their backstories will change the pot to a certain flavor.
Wine & stock: This is your goal, motivation and conflict. They soften the characters, tenderize them, strengthen their flavors.
Seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary or bay leaf): Secondary characters. Added throughout the story to give it depth. Complexity. Some are minor walk-through characters that make subtle changes to your story/characters. Others have such a strong impact and manipulate the other ingredients to such a detree that without them the story might not be the same.
Without seasoning, your soup might have all the major ingredients, but it will be bland, flat.
Secondary characters are some of my favorites.
Pride & Prejudice: Who doesn't love Lizzie's sister Jane and Mr. Bingley? They are such an important element in the story. They affect both Lizzie and Mr. Darcy's motivation, their conflict, their goals.
Lord of The Rings: The Hobbits. Each one has a destiny to fulfill. We all know Froddo's mission, but Sam is the element that helps achieve that goal all the way to the end. Merri and Pippin have their own battles to wage, affecting the outcome of the tale while adding their perky flavor to the story.
The Dark Hunter series: While each book is a stand alone book, their are elements that flow through each that unite their flavors. Acheron and Simi, Artemis and the other greek gods/godesses. The Damons. Even New Orleans plays a character in the books, flavoring them with its own unique spice.
No Body's Baby But Mine: This is my favorite SEP novel. Cal's family becomes an igredient that changes him and his relationship with his wife Jane. His parents relationship not only grows into a secondary plot, but influences the outcome of Cal and Jane's story.
Saving Grace: My favorite Julie Garwood story. Joanna's step brother Neil plays a pivitol role in bringing his sister to Gabriel for her protection. He irritates Gabriel, mostly because he's English, but also because Gabriel suspects that Neil harbors a hidden desire for his sister. When he turns up later in the story, he once again plays a part in the ever changing plot.
So, dear readers, do you like secondary characters? Who are some of your favorites? Why?