She's got legs...she knows how to use them... --ZZ Top
Remember that one? Well, as mothers we all have to use our legs for walking (grocery shopping), bending (pick up that den one more time), squatting (lift with your legs not your back), climbing (does your house have stairs?) and so much more. Our legs really do get a work out every day--intentional or not.
But today we are going to work on our two pillars of support--our legs! That's the body part we are going to focus on for exercise today but what about our book. Does our book have legs, you may ask?
Of course it does...our book's support system is the cast of supporting characters. And analyzing their necessity or detriment to our story is a necessity in shaping up our manuscripts.
We need to take care of those legs because they are one of our best attributes as women (in my opinion) and with summer coming up they'll definitely be exposed in shorts, skirts, and swim suits. So, let's get to work on them now and we'll reap the benefits later!
Side Leg Lift (great for the inner thigh)
Get on your side on the floor and prop yourself up with your forearm. Keep your legs straight. Lift the top leg up and slowly move your foot in small circles clockwise for twenty seconds and then reverse your foot circles counter-clockwise for twenty more seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand at the bottom of the stairs and hold the hand rail with one hand (facing towards the stairs as if you are ready to climb them). Step up onto the first step with just your toes and balls of your feet on the stair (your heels remain off the step). Then slowly raise yourself up onto your toes and then back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times or until you "feel the burn" in your calf muscles!
**Warning/Caution** As with any exercise program be sure that you are careful to prevent injury and consult your physician before attempting if you've had a prior injury or surgery to this area of the body.
When crafting your story, think of your supporting cast as if they are in a movie. Think about how they add to or take away from the over-all story's success. Create a "role vitality" and "necessity" chart and verify that each character is needed and ultimately adds something to the finished product. If you find some extraneous characters, don't be afraid to cut them!
Last week, I made reference to the movie P.S. I Love You. I'm going to discuss each of the supporting characters from that movie today and show you how I create my supporting character charts for my books. P.S. If you haven't seen this movie yet--the following will be a major SPOILER!
The reason I chose this movie is because it has a fairly large cast of important supporting characters.
John (Gerry’s business partner and Sharon’s husband)
Role vitality: He’s kind of an extra character without too much depth but kind of a nice bonus male amongst the plethora of female roles.
Necessity: He probably could have been left out and it wouldn’t really have affected the story that much. But I like the character because he is really the only “non-romantic” male role in the story. Sometimes it is important to have a character like this just to keep things on an even keel.
Denise (Holly’s best “single gal” friend)
Role vitality: She’s definitely the comedic relief amidst all the painful/sad drama going on. She has a certain harsh bluntness about her but remains funny and witty even at Gerry’s wake.
Necessity: I believe she is an extremely important role. Not only for the humor that she adds to the piece but because she is proof to Holly that true love still exists out there. She has waited a long time to find hers and encourages Holly not to lose hope in finding it again.
Sharon (Holly’s best “married gal” friend and co-worker)
Role vitality: She’s the best friend that is always quietly there for her. She’s there for the hand holding and the fun. An all around great friend and support figure to Holly.
Necessity: She’s the quiet in the storm. She’s married and knows what a loss such a Holly’s might feel like but she’s also very much a solid backbone for Holly when she begins to feel sorry for herself.
Ciara (Holly’s sister)
Role vitality: She doesn’t seem to play a big part in the film but is only there as an extra family member support and perhaps to add a bit of slapstick wacky humor to the mix.
Necessity: Not much, in my opinion. I would have left her completely out of this story. There are not even any one on one supportive sister conversations in the movie. I think this is a character that could have been cut and not missed in the least.
Patricia (Holly’s mother)
Role vitality: She’s the sharp, brash reality of the movie. Wants Holly to snap out of her dream world and get back to the land of the living. But in the end, it is revealed that she’s really been hurting just as much as her daughter.
Necessity: She’s a crucial role in the movie. She has been abandoned and left alone just like Holly. She’s experienced similar loneliness and pain and dreads the same type of life for her daughter. She’s incredibly protective of Holly to the point of almost alienating her. But without her firm grasp on reality, Holly’s character could have easily sunk into an unrecoverable depression. Even though she plays the sort of “bad guy” of the movie—she’s extremely necessary.
Daniel (Holly’s friend and possible new hero?)
Role vitality: He’s really the story’s mislead. We think and maybe want to believe that it will be as easy as this to find the perfect “guy next door” replacement for Gerry. But Daniel turns out to be just a good friend and sounding board with very inappropriate timing and humor.
Necessity: I think he’s another comedic relief but from the guy’s perspective. He’s sweet and caring and even though he almost always says the wrong thing—we look forward to seeing him again. We are sort of rooting for him and Holly to hook up but in the end know that she doesn’t feel for him the way he feels for her. A great mislead on the next “hero” of the story!
William/Billy (Gerry’s old friend and band mate & Holly’s next love interest?)
Role vitality: He’s a big part of her healing process in that he’s the first man she sleeps with after Gerry’s death. But he also knew Gerry throughout his childhood and holds a tight link to Gerry and their past. Some might see him as just a replacement for Gerry due to their similarities (tall, dark, handsome, Irish, and a musician, etc…). And we don’t really get to see if they will end up together but we believe that they might and therein sets up the “happy for now” ending to the movie.
Necessity: Absolutely crucial. We need to know that there is hope for Holly’s future. We need to feel that she’ll be happy and that Gerry would be happy with her choice for a future mate. Plus the fact that he’s sweet and caring and sexy as all get out!
In my new release from Evernight Publishing entitled Double Take (click here to read more), my favorite supporting character is my heroine's FBI agent partner Chi. He's addicted to food and his constant food cravings add humor to the storyline and he manages to work a meal or snack into the investigation whenever possible.
Now, I'd love to hear about one of your favorite supporting characters! Share with us one of your supporting characters in a current Work In Progress and tell us what critical contribution they make to your overall storyline.
Until next week...I remain...