You Want Whose Story?!

As I’ve said before, when I wrote Sharing Hailey"Love makes you stupid." Meredith Burke, it wasn’t planned as the beginning of a series. The secondary characters were just that—secondary characters—not potential heroes and heroines. By the time I finished it, I knew I wanted to write Landon’s story, but I was stunned when readers asked for more of Meredith. Seriously? She was kind of bitchy. Granted she had some admirable qualities. Her love for her family. Her loyalty to them. But Meredith didn’t seem like an easy person to love. How the heck was I supposed to give her a happily-ever-after when I didn’t like her that much?

The answer was easy, of course. I had to find out why Meredith was the way she was. Now, I know a lot of writers feel that their secondary characters must be almost as fleshed out as their main characters. In some cases, that’s true. But in real life, we don’t always know the history and motivation of the people we interact with. Sharing Hailey was written entirely from Hailey’s point of view. The characters she knew well, I knew well. She and I knew their histories, their backgrounds. The characters she didn’t know well, like Meredith, I didn’t know well.

I knew Meredith had a brother and sister, that she was an astrophysics professor, and that she had her ditzy blond routine down pat. I also knew she didn’t have a very high opinion of love. In fact, she said in reference to that emotion of hearts and flowers, “It makes you stupid.”

It took me a long time to get Meredith to open up about why she was so down on love. Not surprising. Even her family wasn’t privy to all of her secrets. Her brother, Landon, said in Sharing Hailey, “Meredith, well, she’s a little more complex. I haven’t figured out what makes her happy. I don’t think she has either.”

Turned out, Meredith had her reasons, heart-breaking ones. Did I feel bad about judging her? You betcha. But it made me more determined to give her a happily-ever-after. It also reminded me to look behind people’s façades. Happy or sad, we aren’t always what we show the world, and what lies beneath is so much more interesting.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

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