Thursday, April 21, 2011

Soccer & Writing: When Supporting Players Take Over the Field

When I saw the team lineup for Sunday's L.A. Galaxy game, I was worried and, to be honest, kind of annoyed. I got into soccer last summer because I wanted to follow the further adventures of Galaxy team captain Landon Donovan after his excellent showing at the World Cup.

Impossible as this may seem, I'd forgotten at the time that David Beckham was also with the Galaxy, partially because I'd shunned from my mind the "Posh & Becks" reality show Coming to America, and partially because he was injured for most of last season. I quickly became spoiled by his presence, however, so when he, Donovan, and several of the other Galaxy headliners were absent on Sunday, I panicked. Seemed like everyone good was either suspended because of yellow card accumulations or resting up after injuries. "Aggh, we're going to get murdered," I thought, settling in for an afternoon of pain.

A minute later, however, I was thrilled to realize that A) last year's talented rookie, Stephens, who normally only gets a few minutes per game, would be starting and B) I would get to meet a bunch of players I'd never seen before, who are rarely afforded a chance to play at all.

And guess what? They were fantastic. They beat Chicago 2-1. I find myself allllmost curious how the team would do without its "stars" for the rest of the season.

I had a similar situation with my WIP recently. Having written 100 pages, I realized that one of the smaller roles was the most interesting to me, and deserved a deeper exploration of his motivation and background, especially since the character's relationship with my lead was central to the heart of the story. So I set the 100 pages aside and pulled up my original opening, which included the smaller role earlier on. It's going to take some work to start over, but I'm really excited about this development.

Have any of your supporting roles ever asserted themselves into a larger role? Have they ever taken over the story completely? Did they surprise you with what they brought to the narrative? I'd love to hear how you worked them in.


  1. I LOVE when characters that you may have inserted in as a quick-fix to something, or just as a means to an end, take over and write themselves. I live for those moments, honestly.

    And then I think I do exactly what you did. If a character is really speaking to me, I try to go back and see if I can include more of them.

  2. One thing I love about writing romance is that I can easily placate the noisy secondary characters by promising them that I will write their story next!
    I like it when I'm reading a romance from a favorite author and I recognize the MC as someone who was a minor part of a previous book.

  3. Came over here from Sophia's. :)

    Love how you tied this in with writing. My supporting characters always push their way into bigger roles. I don't know what it is about them, but I often find myself loving them more than my MCs. :P

  4. Hi Krispy, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Sometimes supporting roles are just more interesting, don't you think? Maybe because MCs have to be a window for the reader, but supporting roles have to rile the MCs up and/or cause trouble. That's my theory, anyway :)

    AmyBeth, I love when secondary characters show up in other books as leads, too. I especially liked that in Beverly Cleary's work when I was kid.

    Sarv, I'm both nervous and excited about this development. I'm glad I realized it at page 100 instead of later, but I hope I can pull it off okay next draft!

  5. My MS started out with Sophie (who is now a secondary character) as the MC, and Sera (now the MC) as a secondary character, so I totally get where you're at. I did a complete rewrite. :)

  6. OMG I love fun facts like this! Sophie was the MC?? Verrrry interesting. What made you decide to switch it up? I think it was the right choice, btw :) They're both great characters, but I love that Sera's the lead.