Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Tagalongs

Dear Tagalongs,

You know who you are.  I have at least one of you in every book.  You're the characters who weren't really supposed to be there, the characters who latch onto the main cast and hitch a ride with them.  Sometimes you force my other characters to learn and grow.  Sometimes you're there to add support.  Sometimes you seem to be an annoyance to others until they realize you really do play a significant part.

There is a difference, I think, between you and the characters who show up unexpectedly.  The unexpected characters are the ones who jump out of nowhere and say, "Hi, I'm joining your story now!"  You, on the other hand, are the ones that say, "Hi, I'm a part of your story and now I am going to do this and you can't stop me, ha!"  Or, in the cases of some personalities, you may be the, "Hello, may I please join in on this adventure?" kind of people.

In any case, you always add a little something (or a big something) to my stories and I really enjoy seeing how you affect everything.


*Do you have "tagalong" characters?  Do you find them frustrating?  Helpful?  Annoying?  Fun?


  1. my tagalong is really a spy! ooooo =)
    happy t day and happy easter!

  2. I saw your title, and I thought you were talking about my favorite girl scout cookies!

    I also have a tagalong character--and I actually blogged about him for "O". I call him my Odd Man Out. But, really, same thing.

    Have a great day!

  3. This is so true. And often, these characters turn out to be my favourites in the whole story!

  4. My tagalong was supposed to be dead and has now come back to life. Sweetheart, just terribly misguided. He'll make for a great main character in a second book.

  5. I have a few of those! Sometimes they get in the way in a scene and I'm like, "ugh, what can I do with you? There are just too many people in the way right now!". But mostly I just enjoy their comments :-)

  6. Ugh. Tagalongs can be annoying at times, can't they? I also feel that they can be the characters that authors include when they get stuck (usually the half way point). You know, when you can't move forward so you let something random happen to shake things up again.

    That happened to me during Script Frenzy. I got half way through and realized, in some ways, that I'd pretty much told the story I wanted to. In the end, I added a character that was semi-important before (in flashbacks), and had her become more important than originally intended.

    She was an AMAZING help, and she did get my story to move forward, but I spent awhile wondering what to do with her. LOL. I'm SO glad I ended up including her though. She opened up a lot of possibilities.

    As I've said before, your posts really helped me through Script Frenzy. Somehow, they made me feel less alone during it all (sadly, no one I knew was doing Script Frenzy), but it was so worth it in the end!

    Hope you're doing well!

    <3 Shanna

  7. Ah, this has happened to me before and sometimes it pans out and sometimes doesn't. I tend to weed out characters that don't have much of a role or are two dimensional, but if they really feel like they belong. . .the more the merrier:)

  8. Oh, yeah, we all have them. I suppose it depends on what they're doing as to whether or not they're annoying. For one of my WsIP, I didn't realize until late in writing the first draft how important one of those characters had become. It'll be hard to go back and work it out better from the beginning, but it'll be worth it, I think.

    East for Green Eyes

  9. Especially when those tagalongs steal the show!

  10. I didn't encounter this phenomenon with my 2004 books because they were written totally without planning.

    My current WIP is a different matter. I had a tidy little outline, which worked wonders till about the end of the first chapter. *cough* Then a character came out of the blue and decided he was actually a main character. To add insult to injury, he brought his own entourage!

    I'm mostly kidding about the "insult to injury." This particular character's already much beloved by me, and is helping me understand--at long last!--why people care about romance in novels, movies, etc. I'm glad for him, and how much richer the story is thanks to him and his entourage!

  11. I do often have tagalong characters and sometimes they join the supporting cast.Sometimes they become strong and unwieldy and try to take over the lead role! So I have to reign them in or save them for another tale.

  12. Tara-Oooh, a spy! That sounds like so much fun!

    Kristine-Mmm, girlscout cookies! That was the first thing I thought with "tagalong" too. ;) I think I like the Odd Man Out title more than the Tagalong title. It makes him sound quirky and fun. :D

    Angeline-Mine, too! It's so funny how that happens.

    Rachel-Haha, I think I have more of the "I enjoy their comments" than I do of the "wait, there's no room for you here!" characters, but it's always interesting to see if a character is useful. Sometimes the characters I thought would be the most important end up falling into the background.

    Shanna-I've had a couple of characters in my books that you've read who came out of nowhere because I was stuck, LOL. And then they ended up playing a huge part in my books.

    Lindsay-Yeah, there have been a couple of characters I've had to weed out--or get rid of quickly--because they weren't serving a necessary purpose.

    Rosie-I'm sure it will be worth it! I've had characters spring in on me and then they become so important that I have to go back and tweak and add things. It can be hard, but it makes for a better, stronger story.

    Donna-It has happened to me!

    Deb-LOL, I'm not much for outlining, either--which probably makes it easier for tagalong characters to spring up on me. ;) I'm so glad that you have a character who's helped you learn and understand new things! It's amazing the things we learn from our characters sometimes.

    NiaRaie-I've had a couple of characters like that, too.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!