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Ways to introduce minor characters in your novel-part two

In my previous post I wrote how to introduce a minor character into your story. We met Grover in a barbershop. He was 5’8″, bald, wore a green wool shirt, red suspenders and Levi’s with a massive gut sagging down over his pants. He did not say a word in the scene, yet I am confident readers would remember Grover Hargrove. He was introduced in chapter two.

Now I am writing chapter four and it is time to bring forth Grover. Here is what happens when we see Grover a second time.

I looked across the street and my eye caught a man watching us. He wore a green wool shirt, red suspenders over Levi’s and a massive gut drooping over his pants. It was Grover Hargrove, the man hit in the head by a falling tree, that I saw in the barbershop.

Evy noticed me looking at Grover. “Who’s that honey?”

Clancy turned her head at Grover, standing on other side of the street as motionless as a statue. Clancy waved and yelled, “You hoo.” As if poked by a cattle prod, Grover jolted to alertness, the statue come to life, and he quickly waddled away.

Now the reason I wrote the description of Grover when Chet sees him is to identify him in a way that the reader will recall-oh that guy. I did the same thing in the first paragraph in this post for those who read the previous post-oh yeah, that guy.

But Grover walks away. The reason is that now the reader knows he will factor in the story. Why was Grover watching them? Is he a bad guy? What is he up to? Is he mentally impaired because of the head injury? It is a nice plot device to make a mystery of someone, or two, within a mystery. It keeps the reader turning pages, clicking enter for next page, or tapping, clicking, to find out about Grover and what he will do or say next. 

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Ways to introduce minor characters in your novel-part one

Every tale needs a protagonist and antagonist, a hero and villain, a good guy and bad guy. But a tale also needs minor characters, maybe just a character in a barbershop, something to divert or give a change of pace, a set-up for what is to come. Consider this scene for my work-in-progress. My lead character, the good guy, is investigating a murder in a small town in 1927. He goes to a barbershop to get a haircut, one in which he will learn something from the barber that will help him in his search for what happened. But we might want to delay that a bit because you don’t want to cut to the chase, you want to give credence to everyday life. So here is a scene where I introduce a minor character.

When the second man got out of his chair and paid Delfare, the proprietor of the shop, I was told I was next. I looked at the man sitting by the window, about 5’8” with a bald head, maybe about thirty. He was wearing Levi’s, a green wool shirt with red suspenders keeping his Levi’s in place, his large blubbery gut sagging over the top of the Levi’s, covering his crotch like giant padding. He had to sit straight, his feet spread to accommodate what seemed to be emergent fat.

“Oh Hargrove don’t mind, do you Grover?” Grover shrugged his blubber.

“Grover is a fixture here aren’t you? He got in the way of a falling tree, thumped him on the head real good. Grover can’t work anymore. He gets bored, comes in here to partake of town talk. He gets bored every day, don’t you Groves?” Grover sighed.

The scene creates verisimilitude, it delays the heart of the scene, and every tale needs sidebars and small little diversions. And this seemingly innocuous character could play a pivotal scene later.  After all, he is hanging around a barbershop, hearing all sorts of gossip and rumors. It could be this innocuous character could play a big part later. And this is one way to set up the reader for what comes later, for they already know about Grover Hargrove.

You won’t find Grover in Silent Murder, but you will find my protagonist and what happened before he got to this small town.

 

coyotemoon_silentmurder

 

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Sneak peek at novel in progress.

This is an excerpt from chapter seven of my e-novel “Silent Murder” that takes place in 1927. Chet and Eveleen are husband and wife; he a screenwriter at Paramount, she a supporting actress. Pat is another screenwriter that Chet has agreed to work with, though doubts Pat will get to work on it. There has to this point been two murders that may have been connected.

This is the third book featuring Chet and Evelyn, but only the second involving a murder mystery. 

The selection is a rough draft. What I am attempting in this scene is to show a character, rather than tell. A character’s action and description should indicate what type of person he is. Let me know if this works for you:

 

After introductions were made Eveleen got Pat a plate, which he piled high with what I had hoped was going to be my heaping plate of spaghetti, leaving me less than I expected, and less than I wanted, and after taking two pieces of garlic bread, leaving Eveleen and I with one each, I realized I could never work with this guy. I thought about stabbing his hand holding the fork which he twisted the spaghetti around on, but Eveleen sensing my food rage, gently patted, then held my hand. I glanced at her and seeing the look in her eyes, I gave up murderous thoughts and ate what was left of the spaghetti.

I noticed when Pat sat down his shoes were dirty, his pants and coat looked wrinkled, and when he took off his hat, his hair looked dirty and matted. He also had the smell of cheap booze.

I asked Pat how he was progressing with our screenplay, but his mouth was full, actually bulging with spaghetti and he could only murmur and nod his head up and down, so I assumed he was indicating things were going well.

Eveleen poured some wine for Pat and I sipped from my glass, while he grabbed his glass and took a good swallow, still with food in his mouth. Miraculously nothing spilled out, though his chin was red from the sauce.

Finally, like a man’s head submerged in water that reemerges gasping for air, Pat took a deep breath and slowly let the air out, letting fork-rounded piles of spaghetti work slowly down his throat, while he took another gulp of wine, then snatched his garlic bread and took a big bite.

Despite having more food on his plate then Eveleen and me, he finished when Evy and I were half done. He gave a contented sigh, looked around and saw a pie on the counter.

“Eveleen, that was wonderful. You continue to eat while I help myself to some pie.”

He got up, grabbed a nearby knife and cut a slice of apple pie, opened cupboards until he found a plate and sat down again. Naturally his slice was about a quarter of the pie.

I figured there was no point in talking while he shoveled a huge chunk into his mouth, moved it to the side of the mouth like a tobacco plug and asked if we had ice cream to go with the pie. After learning we had none, sighing as he shook his head, he attacked more pie. He finished about the time Eveleen and I were done with our spaghetti.

She cut me a slice of pie and herself one, then as we sat down, Pat got up and carved out another huge slice, sat down and engorged his mouth again. He reminded me of my old friend Charlie Faust, my teammate on the 1911 Giants. He ate food with as much relish and gusto as Pat, but with apple pie, a daily meal for Charlie, he ate with slow, sensual, delight.

When Pat finished his meal and burped quietly, the first thing he said was not thank you to Eveleen, but that Elmer Bishop, a sound technician at Columbia was found murdered on a stage at the studio.

 

The first time Chet and Eveleen meet they are in New York 1911 in “Loonies in the Dugout.” It is based on a true story and is a satire on fame and celebrity. The second book is “Loonies in Hollywood,” set in 1922, and is based on the true life murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor. The case remains unsolved, though in my fictional account, Chet does discover who killed Taylor.

Here is a link to my Amazon page.  http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

 

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