Who’s that cute guy in the back?

Share

With the impending release of the Speed Racer feature film, I’ve been remembering the original Speed Racer. (Yes, I’m that old. *grin*) While other people were cheering for Speed to defeat the evil genius and win the race at the same time, I was watching for Racer X. Don’t remember him? Racer X was Speed’s racing nemesis, the only driver who ever stood a chance at beating Speed behind the wheel. He wore dark glasses and a hood, and the mystery of who he really was intrigued me far more than anything Speed and his cronies accomplished. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t the hero – not to me.

Before I started writing about pirates, I was working on another novel, one with elves and maps and motorcycle gangs and Renaissance faires. And no matter what I did, I had this sneaky little feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Eventually, after I had 300 pages done, I realized what was bothering me…I was more interested in the secondary character whose story was intertwined with the hero’s than I was with the hero himself. I’d given him all the flaws, all the real dangers, and all the fun. The book was really about him, I just hadn’t noticed. I wasn’t anywhere near as finished as I thought I was, since the whole thing would have to be reorganized. But now that I knew who my protagonist really was, I could go crazy, and give him even more to do.

I’ll be finishing that book this summer, so maybe someday you’ll all get to see it, and tell me if you think I was right. But in the meantime, I’m curious – have you ever run into that problem, of falling in love with a character who isn’t the hero? Writers, what did you do? Readers, who did you fall for?

Share

8 comments to Who’s that cute guy in the back?

  • Amy

    I do it all the time with TV shows, as, it seems, do most of online fandom. Stargate Atlantis’ Rodney McKay is a case in point – the writers never seem to be able to make up their minds whether he is to be the genius who saves the day or the laughing stock, because he’s not supposed to be the hero but he’s the most popular character on the show.

    If I remember correctly, it’s sort of similar to what happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald with The Great Gatsby – he thought Gatsby was the main character, but it turned out to be Nick, the narrator, who was the real focus – and he had to rejig the book to fit that in.

  • I was racer X fan too…
    The heros with most angst, that is who I love most!
    Faith

  • Misty: I was more interested in the secondary character whose story was intertwined with the hero’s than I was with the hero himself

    Sometimes I have this problem with my own writing. That’s when I realise who the true main character is — that first guy was just the lens my subconscious was using to bring the real MC into tighter focus. At that point, it’s mostly a matter of altering the POV. Mostly.

    Amy: Stargate Atlantis’ Rodney McKay is a case in point

    Personally, I love a smart-ass who can back up all his talk with his intelligence. Brains are a *big* turn-on for me. In all candour, the higher the guy’s I.Q. and his ability to bring his ideas into fruition, the more attractive and interesting I’m likely find him.

    [That, and in reality the more intelligent person usually has a fantastic sense of humour, and the vocabulary to express it.]

    A tall, dark, handsome nerd,… O! Be still, my flutt’ring heart!

  • Beatriz

    Have you ever run into that problem, of falling in love with a character who isn’t the hero? Readers, who did you fall for?

    Let’s see. . . Larry “you ain’t a nice guy” Underwood (although I love Stu, too)

    Jayne Cobb (not a book, I know, but still a good example)

    ~smiles~ I like the bad boys.

  • I was into Racer X, too. Although mostly I was into Speed’s girlfriend. She of the big eyes and cute little nose.

    I had a character in my first series who I created as a foil for other characters. I made him grumpy and difficult and did some terrible things to him. And by the time I was done with the first book, he was my favorite character. So I made him the centerpiece of book II.

  • I think in Robert Jordan’s WHeel of Time, there is a whole slew of characters that I and others with whom we have fallen in love… there’s Bela (the Wonderhorse), Lan, Nyneave, Verin, Gaul, the list is long.

    Closer to home, i think I fell in love (characterwise) in David’s Winds of the Forelands series with Cadel. I still harbor resentment towards his fatre however. *grrr*

    I personally love finding these little gem of characters. They are like the ornaments on a good Christmas tree.

  • Mark said: “I personally love finding these little gem of characters. They are like the ornaments on a good Christmas tree.”

    Beautiful! Exactly!