backstory, character change, historical fiction, sidekick, writing a sequel


Cold Comfort is in final draft stage, and I’m happy with what I’ve done with the character of Wanda, the ‘sidekick’ of my first novel, The Girl on the Mountain.

Wanda as a child was charming, spontaneous, and shocking to her elders. Cold Comfort takes place fifteen years later.

My first problem was how to transition Wanda to a grown-up.

Other characters in The Girl on the Mountain described Wanda as “undisciplined.” For Cold Comfort I decided to let her be the aggressor in romance, and to put her in conflict with other characters. Bad experiences and the loss of her husband have given her a desire for revenge. She continues to carry a knife, and this time it gets her in big trouble.

Wanda’s character is darker in Cold Comfort, but plenty of others offer comic relief. Readers of The Girl on the Mountain will also catch up with May Rose, whose full story is yet to be told!

character change, main characters, sequel, sidekick, The Girl on the Mountain, Writing

Wanda, the sidekick who nearly stole the show

When I was told several times that my main character’s sidekick was stealing the show, I decided to make her the main character of the next story.  In the first one (The Girl on the Mountain) Wanda is 13, abused and homeless, but resilient, wise, and strong-willed.  In that story she’s a contrast to the older, somewhat naive main character (May Rose), who gives her a home and is inspired by her.

I like starting a new project with a character I know so well.  But almost immediately I’m confronted by the problem of maturity and change.  The new story takes place fifteen years later, and rough little Wanda has become a rough grownup. 

As an adult, Wanda can continue to be independent and outspoken.  Those traits can help as well as hinder the accomplishment of her goals in the new story.  But she can’t retain the reactions of a child, or she will be neither loved nor a good main character.  I’m also wondering if her ungrammatical speech will make her less acceptable as a grown-up main character.  People do tend to associate ungrammatical speech with ignorance–not an accurate association, but true of our prejudices.

So help me out.  What do you know of “rough” main characters, especially female ones?  Main characters with poor speech?  What makes them lovable?