A couple of years ago, standing in line at a fast-food restaurant, thinking about my story at the same time I was planning my food order, I accidentally miss-thought the name of the item I was about to order. I latched onto the word, wanting to use it as a character name.
A month or two later, I created an incidental character to fill a particular need in the story. I assigned her the name I had been saving since that day at the restaurant. The character proved interesting and served her purpose well. One line in the manuscript says, “She was exceptional.” The character needed an introduction earlier in the story, so I returned to previous scenes and added notes for use in the next draft.
As I worked through the next draft, I included this character as a minor character that provided continuity to a particular subplot, but as I worked with her, lived with her, learned about her, I discovered she was more than just exceptional. Through this character, I discovered many new details about the aliens and their culture. Her role shifted from a minor character to one of the major characters. I decided to carry her forward into the next book series.
In the first draft, I glossed over the section of the story I am currently exploring. As I expanded this piece, this character came to play a central role in the events. Then, as I planned the details for the next chapter, I saw her again playing a significant part, almost upstaging the other characters. I felt concerned that she was taking over the story.
However, I am almost to the point where the first draft picks up the story again. Her role will diminish meaning she is not actually a threat. In the next pass through the story, I will explore moving to other major characters some of the reveals and world deepening that comes through her, which may diminish her over powering personality a little.
An unexpected character coming to life, growing, evolving, and revealing great secrets I never knew existed is one of the greatest thrills I have ever experienced.
I look forward to working with her in the next book series.