Saturday, October 03, 2015

Quiet Characters

Not long ago, a reader sent me an email--YAY!--listing his favorite characters thus far in the Infinite series.
1. Bryce, the dauntless household steward turned spy in Judge.
2. Tsir Aun, the calm, efficient commander in Prophet.
3. Pet/Scythe, the ever-hungry monster warhorse in Prophet, Judge, and King, who is not, I repeat NOT, based on Maximus from Tangled. (Prophet was on my editor's desk months before Tangled hit the big screens. I bought tickets to Tangled, enjoyed the show, bought the dvd, and told DH, "I'll receive mail asking about Max/Scythe." Sure enough.)

I was intrigued by this list because this reader, Jeff, had chosen two of my favorite supporting characters, Bryce and Tsir Aun. I replied, of course, and asked why these two made the top of his list, and in our ensuing emails, we agreed that Bryce and Tsir Aun were quiet characters. The sort of friends we should all be lucky enough to number among our own. Read more Here.

Ever since this email exchange, I've been pondering Quiet Characters. Why are they important in life and, as a result, in fiction?

I'd like to think of Quiet Characters as the everyday heroes who cross our paths and our Main Characters' paths routinely--calm, efficient, dauntless, honorable and faithful souls who are pleased to remain in the shadows while they work in humble occupations. In short, Quiet Characters provide glue that holds our societies together. This is not to say that Quiet Characters lead boring lives and are content with everyday humdrum. They don't, and they aren't. Didn't Bryce volunteer himself as a spy and infiltrate an enemy army's encampment to aid his own people? Didn't Tsir Aun accept and undertake (honorably and efficiently) a punishing political task after striving mightily to lead his country away from defeat in battle?

Hats off to you, dear Quiet Characters, in life, poems and prose. Life on Earth would be bedlam without you.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

Hear, hear!

Robin Dykema said...

Yes! We all need Quiet Ones...even the Quiet Ones, need Quiet Ones in their lives.

RJLarsonbooks said...

Sarah, Huzzah! The problem with these Quiet Ones is that we often don't notice them in our own lives, and sometimes not even in books. :o

RJLarsonbooks said...

Robin, so true!!! The picture in this post is actually a detail from book 2, Judge, and this is Kien's wrist guard. I wanted to add a caption noting that Bryce was unseen in this picture, but most likely walking just behind Kien, making sure that all was well. ;)

writefury said...

Quiet characters are awesome! For most people, they're only really noticed on the rereads. Kind of an "Oh wow! I never realized how awesome that guy was!"
There are also a few great quiet ones that play a larger role in fiction. Fergus Leatherhead of the peleg chronicles and Horatio Hornblower come to mind.

RJLarsonbooks said...

Writefury,I've always promised myself I'd read the Horatio Hornblower series--I NEED to follow through! So you consider Horatio Hornblower to be a quiet character? OhMY, Fergus Leatherhead doesn't r-e-a-d like a quiet name! The Peleg Chronicles have always intrigued me because I researched Peleg while writing the Genesis Trilogy.