Why Supporting Characters are the Best

Protagonists make up and drive the story, antagonists are often the source of that drive.  They are the ones the audience is to care about, for it is their tale that’s being told.  But what about the unsung heroes of the same story?

Think of one story without supporting characters.  Yeah; there aren’t any.  There’s even an entire category dedicated to them at awards ceremonies celebrating films.  I’ve found that often those that I love most out of the things I watch or read are not members of the principal cast, but those that support the main players.

Examples:

Eum-Ja in Faith.

sung hoon como chun eum ja-EL PELO, EL PELO :3

Eum-Ja actually works for the antagonist of the drama.  He does his thing, does as he’s told, and is very multi-layered behind his soft-spoken beauty.  I seriously spent the entire drama waiting for him to switch sides and still think he should’ve.

Sir Leon in Merlin

Sir Leon, my favorite knight! (Link to other character photos as well, to remain somewhat fair).

Yes, Leon gets a big picture because I like this one.  He’s one of the Knights of the Round Table in the TV series following Merlin and King Arthur, and while in the beginning he’s rather a bystander, a bit part to give some good moments to our heroes, his nobility and honor do not fail to shine through.  And I agree with the fandom in that he must be immortal.  No other way to explain it.

Anton in Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time ABC | Once Upon a Time' recap: Tiny with Jorge Garcia | Season 2 Episode 13 ...

Anton the Giant is a sweetheart.  While initially wary of humans, he is very loving as well as curious of the cultures and practices of others.  It’s because of him that the magic bean once again grows, and it’s very satisfying and happy to see him settle in among the residents of Storybrooke, really making a home there.

Honorable mentions: Dromio and Dromio from Shakespeare’s a Comedy of Errors.  Read the play for them.


Now there are many different supporting characters.  Everyone around you could be considered a supporting character in the story of your life.  There are a lot, huh?  It could be that person who smiled at you when you were fifteen.  It could be your grouchy neighbor with the constantly-barking dog.  They touch and change your life in some way, enriching the experience and giving you the opportunity to see the world in a new light.

Stories are very much the same way.  Every supporting character should touch and change your principal cast or the story itself in some way.  Let me give you some examples from my Robin Hood/King Arthur WIP:

The Lady Eliza

The Lady Eliza ... but she would never handle a sword.

Eliza is a very unlikeable character.  She’s sixteen and married to a noble, viewing herself above everyone she comes in contact with, which drives Marian insane.  She’s a complete priss and unlike the picture, would never handle a weapon, perferring to laze about and complain.  She irritates Marian (and Morgan and even Magar) to no end, and Marian spends her days trying to avoid her while still pretending to help her under Magar’s orders.  She is a good source of information if Marian pushes and manipulates hard enough, seeing as her husband doesn’t think her intelligent enough to keep his secrets from her delicate ears.  So when some of the nobles band together to bring down the king for their own gain, Eliza is in on it and Marian uses that to her advantage.

Guinson Little

Guinson.

Much more trusting and friendly than his father and friends, Guinson is crucial in the moment when Marian had been captured by his comrades.  It’s thanks to him that she’s allowed to go free, and when he’s taken prisoner, she acts to save him, turning her whole life around as well as earning the trust of the rugged outlaws.

Sir Kay

OH MY WORD IT'S KAY.

Arthur is extremely close to his foster-brother Kay, despite the huge differences in their personalities.  While Kay is a huge brat and prone to temper tantrums, he would die for his little brother and king.  He is, in many ways, Arthur’s support.  If Kay thinks what he’s doing is good, then Arthur is assured that it is.  If Kay disagrees, Arthur might just do it anyway, but his brother’s opinion is always carefully considered at the very least.


Again, there are as many different kinds of supporting characters as there are people.  They should also get their time in the spotlight of your mind, because even if your principal cast is well-built, fleshed out and genuine, your story will fall flat unless the supporting characters are as real as their protagonist counterparts.  They support the characters.  They support the story.  And oftentimes, they win our hearts.

Cheers!

Ana

Character Spotlight: Lady Marian of Nottingham

Mah girl. It’s time for another spotlight.  I have chosen Marian from my Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling.  She’s a spunky young woman that’s forced to live with Sheriff Magar at the death of her parents.  She sees the oppression and poverty rampant in England (I’ve put her in the early fifteenth century for now, at least) and as she is continually stirred by the nation’s troubles she begins to do everything in her power to combat tyranny and fight for peace and justice.

What inspired Marian?

Do you want the embarrassing truth or do you want me to doctor it into something that sounds better?  The truth of the matter is I love playing in the mirror and because of my love of Robin Hood, I envisioned this tough young woman who only pretended to be a man, her pseudonym doing much to protect her identity.  I began putting together the scene, and I decided that this needed to come alive for real.  As for what Marian looks like, she resembles a cross between my mom and sister, and Julia Ormond was as close as I could find.  (Besides, she was Guinevere in First Knight.  I adore that movie).

So she’s Robin Hood, basically.  What makes her go out and rob from the rich to give to the poor?

More than anything it was her upbringing.  Her father seemed to forget that she was a girl and she was allowed to run wild, much to her mother’s dismay.  She had always had a mind of her own and her father encouraged her in her independence, eventually actually giving in to teaching her swordplay.  Her parents were also very intent upon keeping Nottingham a safe and fair place, and when they were killed and the sheriff of Derbyshire took over, Marian got to see first-hand what tyranny and an iron fist do and it angered her.  Never one to sit on the sidelines, she decides to do something about it.

Does she have Merry Men?

She meets (actually, she’s kidnapped and manages to make them let her free) a ragtag group of outlaws.  At first they were planning on ransoming, then killing her, but as she proves herself to be of their ideals they begin to trust her.  They consist of John and his son Guinson, Haelen, Jeffrey and Barric.

John.

(John Little).

Guinson.

(Guinson Little, the baby of the group).

Haelen!

(Closest thing to Haelen I could find).

allen a dale, robin hood bbc. (joe armstrong) my fav!

(Jeffrey.  I couldn’t resist, okay?)

Cross between John and Barric.

(This is the closest I could find to Barric).

If Marian lived in the modern day, what genre of music would she like?

Hm.  Probably more musical theater stuff.  Something not too pop, not too classical.  And she would love the power ballads.  But Sondheim would take some getting used to.

What’s something she admires about herself?

Her tenacity.  She’s very headstrong and when she puts her mind to something, she never gives up.

Is there something she regrets?  What is it?

Her overall regret is accepting Magar’s invitation for her to stay in Derbyshire.  She now isn’t allowed to leave and when she attempts to regain some of her freedoms he punishes her through hurting others.

Is she a talker or a listener?

A bit of both.  She very carefully watches everything around her and speaks to cover up the fact that she’s ingesting as must information as she can.  She paints herself as a proper lady.

What does she struggle with?

Her temper is one of her greatest vices.  It’s often gotten her into trouble and now that she’s playing a dangerous game she has to keep a tighter leash on it lest it get her into trouble.  She also speaks her mind without thinking of the consequences — it’s another thing she’s having to keep in check.

How does she handle those she dislikes?

Probably not as well as she should.  She likes to escape, citing certain duties as a means to leave.  With Magar, she has to act submissive and it angers her.  He knows she hates him, but they’re both aware that she can do nothing about it.  So when Marian becomes Robin Hood, she makes it a personal goal to make him suffer as best she can.

If she lived in the modern day, what would she do?

She would probably be in college getting a degree in law or something.  To quote Bela from Yokai Ningen Bem, “when [she] decides [she] likes some[thing] [she’s] serious about it.”  She probably would apply herself to her studies until she accomplished her goal, and she would probably have a close group of friends who shared her drive and opinions.

How would she feel about Disney’s Merida?

In a lot of ways I think she would relate, seeing as neither of them want to get married, both prefer spending time outdoors with weapons and doing daredevil things, but she would disapprove of Merida’s treatment of her mother.  And she would probably think the bear thing was really weird, seeing as she doesn’t know she’s come in contact with magic yet.

What was she like as a child?

Basically like she is now but with less inhibitions.  Her mother constantly worried about where she was and what she was doing, and there have been several instances where she’s broken either a bone or something belonging to a neighbor in her wild escapades.  She now knows how to behave like a lady, even if she’s pretty grudging about it.

Who are her friends?

At the present moment everyone she’s ever considered herself close to is in Nottingham and she can’t go there.  But she is building trust with the group of outlaws and a strange woman has just appeared in Derbyshire.  Marian insisted the woman, whose name is Morgan, stay, even if she doesn’t entirely trust her.

What is her ultimate goal?

What she really wants is peace.  Both for herself and for her countrymen.  She doubts it’ll ever happen, but she applies herself to fulfilling her dreams to the best of her ability.


So that was Marian.  I’m actually struggling a bit with her story right now because there isn’t much action at the present moment.  But she’s very dear to me and I look forward to spending more time with her.  Biting remarks and all.

Cheers!

Ana

“Hello. What’s Your Deepest Secret?”

Danger lurks around the bend  I’ve always struggled with character development.  I would get a great idea for a book, put together a cast of characters, give them names, and they would just stare at me with blank expressions, somewhere in their minds accusing me of not creating them properly.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, they were right.

My novel Metamorphosis was my trial-run.  I’d written before, and while my technique was good, the rest was sloppy and inexperienced.  I was working on a novel that had inspired Metamorphosis, and getting bored of it and excited for my new project, I abandoned it and began to write Fraina, one of my principal characters.

She had initially started in my mind as a Mary Sue — yuck, right?  Then her hair got shorn, I saw her petite little mouth always set in this tough line, and I witnessed the lightning-fast, penetrating look in her grey eyes.  She became real.

(My model for Fraina).

So, I hadn’t had much experience creating my own characters well before this.  I had always loved stories, but I had never really finished a novel.  Not even close.  I can’t tell you how many notebooks and Microsoft Word documents are two pages long, the few paragraphs filled with such promise, then abandoned when I realized I had no idea what to do with them.  The best I had done was a historical fiction novel that I really need to get back to and the sweet, pathetic story that helped Metamorphosis come to be.  (They will both get their spotlight.  Eventually).  Then Metamorphosis happened.  I loved the idea, the characters, and no matter how hard it was or how confused I got, I kept pressing forward.

Perhaps there is magic in the world.  Because somehow, miraculously, all the frayed strands wove together into something that I never could have accomplished alone.  Now I know how important it is to get to know your characters before you start your story, but thankfully my team of misfits didn’t kill me as we struggled to come to terms with the others’ idiosyncrasies and shortcomings.  As I wrote, I came to know them.  Brunnhilde and I had a bit where I thought she should be regal and wise, and she wasn’t having it.  She’s regal, yes, but in a fiery, wild way.  She was underdeveloped because we were constantly fighting over who she was — it pays to listen to your characters, because the story became so much better after I admitted that she was right.  (Thank you, Shelby, for helping me with that).

(Reference to Brunnhilde’s wings).

But with as much as I learned, even in the beginning chapters of my book, I still struggled with knowing who I was writing.  I didn’t understand how to accomplish that.  I asked my sisters, my friends, and they all said the same thing: ask them questions.  In desperation, I emailed my friend Mirriam Neal and begged for assistance.  She sent me a list of questions she asks her characters, and I still wasn’t sure exactly how to go about this.

I had a brilliant idea.  (Okay, being Christian, I understand that most of my brilliant ideas have had a little help getting through my often-thick skull, so I am immeasurably grateful for a God who puts up with me).  I simply wrote myself into a scene with them.  I basically had my five protagonists in Metamorphosis covered, but I needed real antagonists.  I knew their names, their species’, but nothing of their souls.  Here’s an example of my interview with Quintessa, the Amazon:

Ana shrugged. “You basically tell me what happens and I write it down. Everyone controls their own fate – I just make it happen, being the writer. But I can’t do it properly until I’ve talked to each of you and gotten to know you better. I’d rather write you honestly and as you’d like to be portrayed. I don’t want to make a mistake, y’know?” She refrained from reminding them that they were the villains, and in order for them to seem as powerful and real as they were, she really needed to interview them. She gestured at Quintessa. “Let’s start with you, babe.”

            One elegant eyebrow curved upward at the pet name, but she waved her hand and her companions rose and reluctantly left the tent, staring over their shoulders suspiciously.

            Ana dragged Takeshi’s chair closer until when she sat down her knees would be but a foot from Quintessa’s. Pulling out her dad’s laptop, she lifted the top and opened Microsoft Word.

            “One sec,” she said absently, frowning down at the screen. “Let me write down what you look like.” Jotting quickly, glancing continually up at the regal leader of the Invaders, she managed to write:

QUINTESSA

THE EPITOME OF ROMAN BEAUTY, EVEN IF HER HISTORY IS GREEK (NOT LIKE SHE KNOWS THAT). HER FACE IS OVAL WITH A PLEASANTLY DISTINCT JAW, RATHER RECTANGULAR. HER NOSE IS FIRM, AND HER EYES ARE LARGE AND BROWN WITH THICK, LONG LASHES. HER EYEBROWS ARE STRANGELY ELEGANT, AND HER CURLY DARK HAIR IS BRAIDED DOWN HER BACK. MAN, THIS WOMAN IS TALL! SHE IS ALSO VERY MUSCULAR, ALMOST LIKE A JAGUAR. OH, AND HER LIPS ARE MEDIUM-FULL.

            “There,” she said finally, “I think I got it. Can you read?”

            Her eyes narrowed. “No.”

            Ana shrugged, secretly relieved. “That’s fine. So, let’s get on with it.”

            “I thought we’d already started,” she said coldly, obviously irritated at the inconvenience Ana was proving to be.

            Ana laughed. “Not formally, no. I have a few questions suggested by a friend and I few I’ll add myself.”

            “Which friend?” Ana could tell that what she really meant was, ‘what does this person know about me?’ She didn’t care about ‘which friend.’

            “She doesn’t know about you,” Ana reassured her, “but she’s got some good interview ideas. So, what do you like to wear?”

            A corner of Quintessa’s mouth twitched, as if she were hiding a smile. “And I thought these would be deep, probing questions that I would be seriously reluctant to answer. This is a bit trivial, don’t you think?”

            “Don’t worry, we’ll get to the difficult ones soon, babe.”

As a result of my interview with a Vampire (ha, ha, I’m so funny!) and other beings, I truly was able to know and understand these individuals.  Despite their villainy, I love them.  I know their — sometimes-questionable — motives, their fears, their joys.  They blossomed into real people, one that someday, could even be called my friends.  (Considering they nearly wanted to murder me for invading their privacy, I doubt that it will be anytime soon).

Very Takeshi. XD

(Takeshi, the Vampire in Metamorphosis and my friend Ashley’s husband).

But even with this technique, sometimes it’s really hard to understand your own ‘babies.’  An idea I had after getting frustrated with Marian’s complete lack of interest in the project she’s the protagonist of was assigning them each a song.  I grew up a dancer, so my second home was backstage.  I have three different categories: Disney, Broadway, and pop.  (Opera’s hard to work with because a lot of it is so specific to the characters and plot of its own production).  My naughty characters were each given a Disney song and lovingly forced to perform it.  I would write from each of their perspectives as they had to belt ‘Cruella de Vil’ and ‘Let It Go.’  I carefully selected the songs that fit each of the characters — ‘Be Prepared’ for Magar, ‘I See the Light’ for Nicky and (an older) Piper — and as they performed, seeing their perspectives, getting used to writing their individuality, I became closer to them and could understand them even more.  Even their rage and irritation towards me for making them do all this helped me get to know them.  (Really, I’m lucky I’m alive.  Hugo wants my head).  They even had ‘I’ve Got a Dream’ as the grand finale — it was awesome!  So right now we’re struggling through the Broadway category, and it’s just as fun.  And Hugo may or may not need a restraining order.

Stages of Choosing A Disney Movie to Watch | Oh My Disney...@Jennifer Edgington Curley I feel like this was a way of life when we wanted to watch ANY movie in school...

(This — this right here is the definition of magic).

These are some of the ideas I’ve had to get to know my characters from the inside out.  They have become completely real to me.  I feel like they’re my friends, like they’re my children.  I love them very, very much — simply for being who they are.  I am so proud I get to share my life with them.

I genuinely hope that if you struggle with character development, that you can find ways to come to know your people.  Perhaps this blog post will help, perhaps it won’t.  But I know that you can find a way that will be true to you, your writing style, and your characters.  They will be some of your best friends.

Cheers!

Ana

More Snippets

Boring title.  I lost my brain again.  But hey, it gets the point across.

All right, so I’ve been working on the three books I’ve picked to be written first — and editing Metamorphosis, which isn’t quite as fun as writing it was — and I have to say that the Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling is rolling along quite well.  Dream Dancers and I are staring at each other from across the room, wondering which move the other is going to make next, and To Befriend a Vampire is hiding under a blanket and pretending it doesn’t exist.  It’s giving me grief.

When in doubt, blame the fairies.


Nicholas looked at Piper. Her eyes were round with awe, and she glanced hopefully back at him.

Fine. The gaze of those innocent blue eyes somehow shot straight to his heart. It wasn’t as if there was anywhere else for them to go, anyway.

So fine.

“All right,” he snapped at the fairy. “But if you try anything – anything at all – I will not hesitate to kill you in the most brutal ways possible.”

-To Befriend a Vampire


Glaring up at them, she demanded, “What do you want with me?” They were wide, burly men, the one who had carried her obviously older than the other. They both had broad, bearded faces, though the younger one had a very childish quality. They were filthy, their clothes tattered and their hair ragged. The older had dark curls streaked with grey, and the younger red-brown strands that shone almost golden even through the dirt. “Who are you?”

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


Valkyrie was sweating, bent over with her hands against her knees as she panted. Her long hair was caught up in a thick braid atop her head, but it still swung to her hips. Her make-up would have been smeared, but she only wore waterproof for this very reason.

Licking the inside of her lip piercing, she straightened and turned off the music. She had choreographed the wildest swan dance ever encountered. Tchaikovsky would either be shocked or pleased – hopefully both.

-Dream Dancers


 

Every sense Nicholas possessed was heightened more than usual as the magical creatures giggled and whispered around him as they skipped happily through the trees. Nicholas made sure to follow Laureila’s every step along the strange road, glaring at any fairy that came too close and baring his teeth in warning. They just stared back with twinkling eyes, showing no sign of fear, which irked him further.

“They won’t hurt you,” Laureila said with a light laugh. “They’re just curious. Humans don’t often come here.” He saw her glance at him over her shoulder for a moment before she added, “Or those that were once human.”

-To Befriend a Vampire


He watched her for a long moment, saying nothing. “I want the people healed.” As he spoke, his voice rose with passion. “I want to see my son allowed to make an honest living. I want to be able to afford bread on a table in a house that shields my family from the wind and rain. I want to be able to eat a meat dinner without being sent to prison – I want you to fix this.”

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


Who cared? Dusty thought the end of the world was coming because her sister wasn’t going to college. If she herself freaked out over every insignificant thing, she would be miserable. More miserable than she already was, she amended with a sardonic grin.

-Dream Dancers


 

He had to stop as soon as he crossed the threshold, blinking rapidly in the blindingly-bright light. He could hear pattering feet and airy giggles surround him as the rest of the fairies dashed into their home, but he was incapacitated by the light. He was so accustomed to only being in the dark he felt as if some part of him had been violated.

-To Befriend a Vampire


Kay’s face was hard and thoughtful, and Arthur watched him carefully. When his brother wanted to say something important, he never spoke without carefully constructing exactly what he wanted to express. Arthur had learned to be patient. “I think you have to earn it,” he said, his deep voice an unconscious growl. “Remember when we used to practice swordplay? We weren’t very good at first, especially you. But we kept at it and now we’re unbeatable. Despite our natural talent, we had to work hard to earn our respect as warriors. You have to earn your place as king.”

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


 

Dusty looked over and laughed. She had heard a moan and a thunk, and was not disappointed to see Ryce’s head lying in misery upon her homework, her blonde curls spilling across the table.

“Ah, finals,” Dusty chuckled. “I can’t say I would ever miss them.”

-Dream Dancers


 

She led them up steps carved straight from the tree. Nicholas was glad his condition gave him exceptional balance for the stairs were narrow, tall, and without railing. As they climbed higher, his stomach started to constrict and his body seemed to increase in temperature, even if he knew that wasn’t possible.

“Nicholas?” Piper said, and he dared a glance at her. Her forehead was puckered in a worried frown, and she said, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.”

Laureila suddenly turned, her expression stricken. “I am so sorry, Nicholas,” she said. “I forgot heights make you uncomfortable.” Nicholas wanted to kick her off the stairs as humiliation tore through him.

-To Befriend a Vampire


 

In the corners of his mind, he noticed they were entering a thick grove of trees – nothing uncommon. But as soon as he was engulfed in its shade, his head snapped up and his mouth dropped open in a desperate attempt at receiving air. A constricting hand had grasped his heart in a vise-like grip, making it impossible to breathe. His vision blurred, becoming grey and filled with smoke, and he wondered if he was passing to the afterlife. Then, through the mist, a vague form of darkness appeared, and as it approached, it solidified into the silhouette of a lithe woman, her long, straight hair blowing in the ice-cold wind. His consciousness swirled into blackness.

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


 

Djin caught his breath. “Finally.” Dropping his tools, he dashed out the door, Tsuyoshi beside him as they raced toward what they called the lighthouse. It was the special room on the edge of the mansion that was whatever Dusty saw. It was as if they were sitting in her eyes. Crashing into the room, they flopped down on the red velvet couch Hugo had insisted occupy the place.

 

Suddenly a burst of excitement came inside Dusty’s mind. Vague shouting sounded, and it was as if the presences in her head increased in attention. Well, at least they weren’t heathens.

-Dream Dancers

Djin!


I guess that’s all until I get myself together and drag Nicky out into the open.  And I might slam Hugo over the head with one of my wrist braces while I’m at it.  It would be fun.

Cheers!

Ana

Character Spotlight: Sheriff Magar

color version of the black and white  Magar is impatiently waiting for some attention, sending glares in my direction and snapping irritably at all those that share his book.  He’s in my Robin Hood/King Arthur retelling, and if I neglect him any further he’s going to throw a hissy fit.  He’s actually been on good behavior of late, but I’m afraid that he’s going to change his mind about being nice to me.  So let me introduce you:

What does he look like?

Completely black Irish, folks.  Thick black hair, blue eyes, and a rather ruddy complexion.  Pink-based, if you will.  His hair is a little on the long, shaggy side, but his beard is always well-trimmed and perfectly groomed.  His features are rather sharp, with a strong nose and kind of low eyebrows set in a longer face.  His eyes are a clear, pale blue and rather small, but his eyelashes are dark and thick, making them quite striking.  He has a regal, dangerous air about him, and there is no question of the power he holds in society.  (And I really don’t picture Magar looking exactly like Richard Armitage, but he works well enough.  Same black Irishness, intimidating expressions, and, well, one must admit — most humbly and with the most casual tone ever — that he’s kind of the most beautiful man that’s ever existed).

Magar

What does he think of his looks?

He’s pretty sure he’s handsome.  He definitely has insecurities, but he decides he’s sexy.

Literally just cracked up. This is possibly the most true gif i have ever seen in my entire life. I always think of Flynn when I see Guy... =P

What is his role in the story?

When Lady Marian’s parents died, being the sheriff of neighboring Derbyshire, he offered her a place in his home.  Then he refused to let her leave and basically took over Nottinghamshire as well.  He does everything he can to ensure he is the one in power and plays his game ruthlessly, using everyone else as pawns.

Richard Armitage, Guy of Gisborne : The only man who can wear "Guyliner" and still look thoroughly masculine!

Does he have any family?

He only had his father, who was abusive and constantly told him he would never amount to anything while expecting perfection of him.  Magar hates him.

I KNOW.  SO WHY, MAGAR, ARE YOU BEING SO DIFFICULT?!  I swear, I'll kill off every one of these characters if they don't start cooperating.  I think Lance poisoned them all against me.

Does he work alone or have others help in his work?

Magar doesn’t share power.  If there’s something he can do himself, he’ll do it.  And if he does agree to let someone help him, there is no trust involved and he plans on disposing of them once his goals are met.

How did he get into his position of power?

He worked hard for it.  His father was a lesser noble but always longed for more.  Magar was driven to become great, to outshine his crippling childhood and rise above the odds.  He has sacrificed and used others as stepping-stools until he wormed his way into the position of sheriff of Derbyshire.

RichardArmitageOnline.com - actor Richard Armitage, star of BBC North and South, Robin Hood (Guy of Gisborne), Vicar of Dibley: articles, inofrmation, pictures, screencaps, video clips.

Does he see himself as the villain?

Does anyone?  He believes this to be his rightful due.  He is very entitled and because of all he’s overcome, he thinks he deserves whatever he wants because he can get it.  He doesn’t really believe in right and wrong, because to him, if you can get it you deserve it.  He believes the common folk are lazy and worthless because they don’t have the brains or the drive to become like him.  People with morals or a sense of humanity are weak because they think it’s wrong to kill to get what you want.  The world revolves around him, his losses, and how he deserves to make up for those losses by taking whatever he desires.  Including Marian.

Best Armitage pic for Magar. ;D

So how does he feel about Marian?

First of all, he wants her lands.  Her parents are dead, so he’s decided he gets to run Nottinghamshire according to his own rules, and he knows that a marriage between himself and the lady of the next county will cement his status as owner of Nottingham.  But though he would never admit it, Marian intrigues him.  She’s headstrong and wild, despite her ladylike manners, and she makes him curious.  And she’s beautiful.  She’s like a prize to him, as well as a sort of security blanket.  I’m going to quote Commodor Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean here, ’cause what he says is basically Magar’s feelings toward Marian: “This promotion throws into sharp relief that which I have not yet achieved.  A marriage to a fine woman.”  As the story progresses, I think that Magar comes to respect Marian more, and he hates it, yet that same respect drives him to developing feelings for her, which he hates almost as much.  And when she doesn’t reciprocate, he lashes out.  Not pretty.

If Magar met me, how would he react?

Sorry, but he wouldn’t give you the time of day.  Unless you had something to offer him, he would let you know who was boss and send you on your way.  If you showed him a cell phone or something, however, he would take it, learn about it, then have you hanged for witchcraft and keep the device.

Magar, Sheriff of Nottingham.  (Shut up. XD)

What would be his living nightmare?

The power and prestige he has acquired is the world to him.  It’s a mark of how far he’s risen above the pain he has.  If that crumbled, he’d go with it.  He would become irrational and lash out at everything, but it would be because he’s hurting inside.

Guy-liner . . . Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne in Robin Hood

What is his greatest wish?

He thinks it’s to be so settled in his position that nothing could rock him or make him feel inferior.  That he would be respected and admired and that everyone would unquestioningly agree that he was fit for this power.  But really, he just wants to feel okay.  He wants the pain in his heart to go away.  He doesn’t want to be afraid, or hurt, or sorrowful again.

.

Could he have been a good man?

I definitely think so.  But his experiences — and giving in to those experiences — have destroyed him.  He let the poison of his childhood grow and fester, while if he had someone to help him out of that, he would be a hero.

"This is one of my goals as a writer: to write a villain that the reader roots for while fearing he'll succeed."

 

Okay, that’s Magar.  I really wasn’t that partial to him when he first popped into my head, but then I got to know him and as I began to understand him, I fell completely in love with him.  I want to see him become that good man.  But it’s up to him whether or not that happens, same as with the rest of us.

Cheers!

Ana

A Very Sherwood Christmas

Jeffrey.

Since I’ve been in the mood to write my Robin Hood/King Arthur retelling, I’ve decided to jot down a Christmas story featuring my (often-childish) characters.  Or I’ll try to, anyway — the kitten may prove it difficult to accomplish.  She likes typing.


The snow flurried down from the thick, grey-white clouds, but it was much warmer in the forest where the trees blocked the wind.  Marian threw a stick at Jeffrey and Guinson, who were huddled under a ragged blanket, blowing on their hands with their faces inches from the fire.  “Up, you lazybones,” she laughed.

“You have no mercy,” Lancelot chuckled, sitting on the ground beside her.

“Where have you been?” John demanded, raising an eyebrow in suspicion.

Lancelot’s eyes were alight with mischief, and from behind his back, he pulled a large cloth sack.  “Merry Christmas,” he said, tossing it next to the fire. 

Guinson dashed out from under the blanket and set upon the knot, Jeffrey scrambling to his side with the blanket trailing after him.  Together they opened the sack and pulled back the cloth pieces, and Guinson gasped.  “This is for us?” he breathed.  “We can eat it?”

Lancelot laughed.  “Well, we’re not going to hang it on the tree for the buzzards to get at!”

Everyone crowded around the juicy turkey, carving and arguing over who was eating too much.  Marian turned and grinned at Lancelot.

“Whose kitchen did you steal that from?” she asked.

Lancelot frowned, as if trying to remember.  “Well,” he said, “there’s this man called Magar — I don’t know whether you’ve heard of him or not, but I think he’s the sheriff — and I snuck into the kitchens of his castle and decided to help him enjoy his Christmas feast.  Looks like I’ve done a good job of it, too.”

Marian laughed.  “I should think so,” she agreed.  It was daring and stupid, what he had done, but as she watched her men devour the seasoned meat a bubble of happiness welled in her heart.  She turned to Lancelot and said, “Thank you.”

He shrugged, watching his comrades.  “I figured they deserved something that was properly cooked for once.  And salted.”

They looked up to see John frowning at them.  “Aren’t you going to have any?” he demanded.  Marian grinned and motioned for Lancelot to precede her as they joined their friends around their Christmas dinner.


 

Cheers, and have a very merry Christmas!

Ana

Snippets of Story and Pieces of Prose

I showed y’all snippets from my finished novel, Metamorphosis, but I figured it would do me some good to post some bits from my WIPs.  Have any of you ever plotted out the storyline, got to know the characters well, la-di-da-di-da, then sat down to write and your brain felt like a prune?  I swear it happens every time I begin a story.  I ended Metamorphosis on this high of writerly inspiration, my heart bursting with love for my babies and my life feeling like a beautiful explosion of cherry candies.

Then I began the other stories.  I’m still looking for someone to blame, and I’ve settled on Marian.

I’m sure she had something to do with it.


The scream woke her again, and with a gasp, she shot into a sitting position, staring around in terror. It took her a moment to realize it was all just in her head. Always just in her head.

Dream Dancers


She turned and grinned. “Come on in. No one here bites hard.”

            Those were the words he’d been waiting for. As fast as he could, he stepped into the house and closed the door behind him, plunging the place into blackness, but he could see just fine.

            “My kid and I are downstairs. Landlord’s up here,” the woman slurred, then immediately began the descent as if she’d completely forgotten about him.

            He stared after her in relieved disbelief. He’d done it. He was safe. What luck that she had come by just as he was looking for a place to hide….

To Befriend a Vampire


She came to a thick oaken door, decorations in polished iron accenting the wood. Holding back a choice word, she lifted her hand and knocked.

            “Enter,” came the distracted response.

            She turned the handle and pushed open the door, closing it behind her. “You wished to see me?”

            Sheriff Magar of Derbyshire sat at his desk, his black hair tucked behind his ears and a dark frown on his face as he examined the reports before him. He looked up when she entered, steepling his fingers. His ice-blue eyes bored into her, but she refused to look away. “How did you enjoy the party?” he asked.

            “I enjoyed it well enough.”

            He shook his head, his eyes falling back to his desk, a mocking half-smile on his face. “Still no gratitude.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Something was wrong … abnormal….

            In his sleep, he slowly realized he wasn’t alone. Fear filling him, he forced his eyes open, beginning to bolt upright, but was stopped by what was before him.

            A small girl-child with wide blue eyes and pale blonde hair in pigtails was staring down at him, a solemn expression on her young face. She cocked her head, watching as he gaped up at her. She was kneeling beside him under the tarp, clutching a ragged teddy bear. “What’s your name?” she asked abruptly.

            He struggled into a sitting position, his head against the tarp, staring down at the young intruder. “Look, kid,” he said, “just don’t tell anyone I was here and let me leave, okay?”

            She nodded solemnly, unblinking. “My name is Piper. I’m five.”

To Befriend a Vampire


            Two months. Two months and a day ago her parents had been killed. She couldn’t forget it, no matter how hard she tried to push it from her mind. Every night her dreams were haunted by that horrible day, the memory of the cold corpses of the people who raised her, blood staining their clothes just hours after they had left for a leisurely ride in Sherwood Forest. They had mounted their horses smiling and laughing, but their faces were blank masks when they were returned.

            She shook her head violently, trying to free herself of the ugly vision that tore her heart to shreds. Nothing could be done, she realized bitterly for the thousandth time. It was all over and finished.

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Ryce’s eyes fell to her plate, her expression suddenly reluctant, almost haggard. “Dusty,” she said softly, “I’m not going to college.”

            Dusty felt as if an electric shock jolted her. She jerked upright, staring in disbelief at her sister. “What?”

            Ryce looked up, her blue eyes pleading. “Dust, there’s no way you can pay for me to go. And even if I were to get grants and scholarships, you can’t pay for this place by yourself. We’ll have to leave it soon, anyway, the way things are going. I don’t have a choice. I need to stay and help.”

            Dusty couldn’t comprehend the words coming out of Ryce’s mouth, even if she heard them. Years of planning, their parents’ excitement at the possibilities open to their younger daughter, Ryce’s intelligence – her future was slipping away, swirling down the drain. “Ryce,” she said, “you can’t be serious. Let’s think about this.”

            Ryce’s smile was sad. “I have. I’ve made up my mind.”

Dream Dancers


            All too soon, Piper was back, four plush creatures in her arms. Holding onto her teddy bear and a fluffy white unicorn, she handed him a black cat that looked as if it had endured too much attention and a bead-filled snake that probably cost fifty cents at a yard sale. “This is Blackie and this is Choker,” she told him, gesturing at the toys. She studied him for a minute, and despite her smile her eyes held that strange solemnity so wrong in someone her age. “They like you.”

            He had no idea what to do. Not a clue. He’d never had things like this when he was young.

            She looked shocked, and he realized in mortification that she had somehow read his mind. “Don’t you know how to play?” she asked incredulously, almost in a whisper.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “Stop pretending you don’t care,” a woman’s voice drawled.

            Djin turned, finding Valkyrie in the doorway, clothed in her typical black leather. A spiked leather belt was slung around her hips, and her piercings caught the light of the glorified closet. “And you don’t, Valkyrie,” he said with a hard, closed-lipped smile.

            She shrugged. “No reason for me to.” Swaggering into the room, she snatched a pair of toe shoes from the wall.

            Tsuyoshi straightened, his thin, innocent eyes watching her curiously. “Did you wear through your shoes again?” he asked her.

            “Yep.” That was the only reply she gave before she left, closing the door behind her.

Dream Dancers


            “You realize those look terrible?” Kay said, dropping into Arthur’s abandoned chair. “Mother’s been trying to make you get rid of them for ages.”

            “They’re the most comfortable pair of shoes I own,” Arthur replied primly. “They and I have been through much and I don’t intend on leaving them out of any adventures that may befall me.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            A dark shape screeched, spinning in front of him, and before he could stop himself he had rammed into it, the glass of the car’s windows shattering under the force of the collision. Through the pieces of windshield, he saw the grim face of a hunter, and with a gasp, he rolled off the hood. Where he had been a moment before, a bullet of wood dented the metal. He tried to run, but another car blocked his path. The men and dogs had caught up, and he found himself surrounded.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “Excuse me?”

            Dusty whirled at the sound of a man’s voice behind her. “Yes?” she asked in surprise.

            A handsome young man stood before her, his caramel-colored hair styled fashionably. He had striking blue eyes and a wide, angular smile. He glanced down at her nametag and said, “Dusty? Can you tell me where the men’s department is?”

            She smiled back at him and gestured to her right. “That direction, sir. You’ll pass the Joe Fresh and Adidas sections and should come right up to it.”

            He glanced in the direction she had pointed, then shook his head, staring at the ground and still smiling.

Dream Dancers


            “Piper,” he said, “I need to get some bullets out. Turn around for a second, okay?”

            She cocked her head, frowning. “I’ve seen bullets before. Andrew has lots of guns.”

            “It’s in my body. Under my skin,” Nicholas clarified. He felt uncomfortable telling her that, lest it disturbed her.

            Her eyes widened and her gaze travelled over him. “Where?”

            He blinked. Apparently, there had been no reason to worry. He shrugged off his jacket, trying not to wince, and turned so she could see the bloody wound on the back of his upper arm. “I’m going to have to dig it out.”

            “Okay.” She seemed completely unperturbed, so he dug his fingers into the hole. Pain shot from it, but this certainly wasn’t the first time he’d been hit. He’d had many closer calls. Finally, he pried the wooden bullet from a clump of muscle, then held his bloody hand out to Piper, showing her the object in his palm. She made a face. “Ew,” she said.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “What?” Marian breathed, staring in horror at the smith. “How – why– This can’t be happening. Not after all those years my family has protected Nottinghamshire from the terrible things happening all over England.” Wilhelm said nothing, and Marian gripped his arm. “Wilhelm,” she said ferociously, “I will put a stop to this. I will go see the sheriff of Derbyshire right now and it will be finished. If all goes well, the soldiers should be out by tomorrow morning.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Hugo was in his room, a book open in his lap as he stared into space. He was bored. The only books in the library that he hadn’t read were Twilight and all its equally revolting sequels. There was nothing interesting on TV and he’d gone through so many math books he dreamed in numbers.

            He wanted out. Ever since he found himself here, he’d wanted nothing to do with Dusty and her generic woes or the predictable people sharing her mind with him. The only interesting one was Valkyrie. Her face flitted through his mind, and a smile threatened to tug at the corners of his mouth. She certainly was beautiful, and her lack of scruples made her more intriguing than goody-goody Dusty and Ryce.

Dream Dancers


            “Go!” Nicholas gestured frantically, his watch still dangling from his hand – it finally broke after two hundred years. The clock snapped from the silver chain and flew across the room, landing on the cement. Nicholas threw himself after it, but Piper had already picked it up.

            “Here!” she cried, her small fingers wrapping tightly around it just as the doorknob turned behind her. He snatched at the watch, and the room disappeared.

To Befriend a Vampire


            Something had to change. And she couldn’t resolve anything until she was ready to do so. Sardonically, she smiled. Perhaps Magar had been right. She was not prepared – her selfishness had prevented her from doing anything but bask in her grief. If she really wished to honor the memory of her parents, she would fight for what they believed in. And they believed in an England where everyone was entitled to justice and happiness.

            It wasn’t the nineteen-year-old Marian that descended the stairs, but a woman. Her dark hair was held back by two braids secured over the rest of her curls, and she wore an ivory-toned dress that shimmered as she walked. As she entered the dining hall, Magar rose, his eyes locked on her. “Lady Marian,” he said quietly as he approached, “you look stunning. You are your mother’s duplicate.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            “Who are you?” a voice whispered, and an inhuman snarl roared from his lips. Instinctively, he swung Piper into one arm, clutching the watch with one hand while his other hand remained open, ready for a fight.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “I think,” he replied slowly, “that if you are the true king, why have you not yet begun your reign?”

            Arthur laughed. “I would if it were that easy. I have a few nobles that stand by me, but most of those that accept me as their sovereign have not an inch of land to their name. Now, to business: this is the very reason I have paid you a visit. Would you be willing to join me and uphold a just, free England?”

            The baron’s lips twitched downward. “I would gladly follow you, but I fear the danger if other nobles disagree with me.”

            Arthur sat back in his chair, regarding the man thoughtfully. “You mean,” he said gently, “you want to know what’s in it for you.”

            His eyes widened. “My liege, I beg to differ—“

            Arthur held up a hand to silence him. “It does not offend me that you do not wish to join me without good reason. But I do appreciate honesty. But to answer your unspoken question, there will be no immediate reward. Protection by myself and my troops, of course, a position in the rising kingdom, security in your title and livelihood, but mostly what I am able to offer is a place in a peaceful country. One where there will be no wars, no sentences without fair trial, and where everyone has equal share. A land of justice.” He spread his hands, looking amiably into the baron’s face. “But I promise that it will be worth it.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Laureila stepped closer, frowning, then suddenly held out her hand. “Give me your watch.” Her voice was smooth and rich, calm yet commanding. She walked with a regal air that spoke more clearly than words of her status.

            He clutched it to his chest. It was his. “Why do you want it?” he asked, slightly mocking as he watched her. He stared at her, one inhuman to another, challenging her.

To Befriend a Vampire


            To Hugo’s slight indignation and surprise, Djin burst into laughter. Still chuckling, he picked up a strange-looking instrument from the perfectly-aligned hooks along the wall and set to work on the design Hugo had ordered on the table. When he didn’t explain the reason behind his merriment, Hugo began to get irritated.

            “What?” he demanded.

            Djin’s green eyes flicked up and he said, “You mean you haven’t realized that you’re the vainest man since Louis XIV?”

Dream Dancers


            Merlin immediately brushed past him and muttered a few words, tapping the handle of Kay’s door. Arthur could hear Kay growling something that sounded threatening.

            “Merlin—“ he began, but the old wizard interrupted.

            “There is no need to thank me, my king,” he said, frowning as he bent his tall frame to peer closely at the handle. “We have no time. More men will be here shortly. Come kick this in for me.”

            “It’s about time!” was all Kay said as the door crashed inward.

            “Gratitude, Kay,” their father scolded as the four of them turned and ran down the hall, Kay and Arthur in front, the three fighters preceded by their swords, Merlin’s blue eyes examining everything in the darkness that Arthur knew made no difference to the powerful sorcerer.

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


That’s probably a little much, but heck, I’ll survive.  These are my babies, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Cheers!

Ana