So, there’s this school bus driver that I kind of hated this past year. Her route was right near my house and, I’ve got to tell you, she must have had it out for me. She would take corners too wide, causing us to have to back up. She’d come to stops with little to no warning. She would sit at a stop forever, I swear. And any time we made eye contact, she’d go off on us. At least as much as she could, seeing as how we couldn’t hear her. Though I’m assuming you have an idea what I mean. Hands waving, mouth moving in such a way we can clearly see she’s not using language she should be using while driving about a bunch of kids.
I don’t like this woman. I cannot understand this woman, and I don’t want her to be driving children.
At the same time, it’s really hard to have such strong feelings for someone you see for a minute at most. And, a lot of factors play into my vitriol for this woman. For one thing, I see her in one of my least favorite times of the day. I am always anxious I’m going to be late for work, no matter how early we’ve left. And she, well, I’m sure driving kids on a school bus can’t be a stress-free job. Maybe we’re just two women, doing our best.
Or maybe she’s got road rage and needs to get that shit under control.
One way or another, I don’t really know this woman. I see one face of her, and it’s not a good one. I don’t see her when she gets back to the bus depot. Maybe she’s the one who brought doughnuts in. Maybe she waits a few extra minutes for a kid who has trouble getting out the door. Maybe she is the driver that always remembers all the kid’s birthday. Maybe she’s a great wife, mom, aunt, sister.
The same is true for our characters. Especially our secondary characters. We tend to see our primary characters as themselves because we see them through their own eyes.
But what about the nice old man who lives next door? How does his son see him? Is there a reason he doesn’t bring his wife when he visits?
What about the best friend? She’s always happy, always there to answer the phone when the MC needs her. Why is her life so empty that she’s just there for her buddy all the time?
Or, what about the villain?
The reason this is coming up is that I’m working on a companion novel to Woven right now. For those of you who read the trilogy, you might remember a woman named Grace in book two. The one who was an old flame of Victor, who was less than happy to see him in love with Lenore?
Yeah, her story is so much more than just being the old girlfriend. And so is Calvin’s. I was really astounded how I felt about Lenore after writing this. Or more specifically, Victor. I am kind of furious at him now.
I’m not telling you all this to sell a book that isn’t even done yet. I’m telling you because it’s really fascinating to me. No one’s really a pure villain or a pure hero. We all have shades of gray. Things that redeem us, things that we’d rather no one else know about. Why does your neighbor walk alone every evening? Who does your boss go home to? How many of your co-workers are forcing that smile?
We all have stories, and we all have many sides. To write a good character, make sure you explore all of your character’s sides. Even if they don’t fit into the story you’re telling right now.
Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.
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