Judith Lepore

Who wants a side of ….with that?👥

Monthly newsletter for fantasy lovers
Imagine that
Hello from the sidelines!  It’s not always desirable to be up front/centre row, Take my word for it as an author AND reader.  This newsletter celebrates side characters, the undervalued gravy on our literary French fries, icing on our fairy-tale cake, and…well, you get the drift.  We expect  a lot from our fictional heroes. They are always under the sweaty glare of the spotlight.
It’s up to all the talented writers out there  to make their heroes/villains staggeringly stage-worthy, and never more so than in the epic-melodramatic-world-of-fantasy.But, AHEM:There are many, MANY side characters in fantasy fiction who keep the plot ticking along, intrigue and ensnare the readers, and so deserve their own stories.  Two immediately spring to mind, one a hero and one a villain.
Sam Gamgee is one of the most endearing side characters in the Lord of the Rings series.  His dogged steadfastness, sweet naiveté and unswerving loyalty to Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring, elevated his “side character” status to the point where it almost overtook the main character spotlight of Frodo, for whom Sam would gladly have given his life. 
It is lovely to bask in the camaraderie of Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron Weasley, but their staunch friendship and strong moral compass would without a doubt become insipid  and yawn-worthy–losing the reader’s  interest IN A HEARTBEAT–without the villainous endeavours of side characters such as Draco Malfoy.And here is a good time to point out the distinction between a scary monster/demon who briefly enters the story, and a true ‘side character’ who is in it for the ‘long haul’, shouldering the weight of the  ongoing plot , all the while knowing they might just be killed off at the whim of the author. These guys need a union. Just look at Draco!  He is INTERESTING.  He makes you sit up and hate him!!  
But when readers (including myself) become disgruntled with a story, chances are it has something to do with one of the MAIN characters: Maybe the author has not developed the character enough and they are not sufficiently ‘three-dimensional’, OR the protagonist/villain might disappoint you in their lack of consistency, behaving differently from one situation to the next, until you stop believing in the person…SO frustrating!  Most lethal of all, the main character might not be EXCITING ENOUGH to support an otherwise well-paced plot…I could go on and on, but I feel like I’m boring you.  Like some main characters do in a novel. 
So let’s go back to side characters, the best of whom can become a starring attraction on the menu of awesome storytelling.The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch is a wonderful, rollicking adventure, so if you haven’t read it you should treat yourself.  it begins with The Lies of Locke Lamora, featuring the fictional gentleman thief who I personally think is one of the most lovable anti-heroes of all time.  (Think “V” for Vendetta, crossed with The Scarlet Pimpernel). In the third book, The Republic of Thieves, Locke Lamora’s long lost love, Sabetha Belacoros sweeps back into his life, after being absent in the first two books, but much-spoken of.  This treatment by the author kind of relegates her to a side character, but when she finally makes her appearance she is a force to be reckoned with–and in every way a match for Locke Lamora. Beautiful and cunning (raised as a thief on the streets just like Locke) she is always one step ahead.
In my novel Where the Moon Has Been, the side character Reika appears out of nowhere throughout the book and works her magic.  Only one character guesses her true identity right away (Chalvern, the apothecary) because he knows his history.  Many readers told me that Reika–although a side character–was close to being their favourite, and they REALLY wanted to know more about her.  So I wrote a short story about her beginnings in the exotic and sinister land of Berlot. You should all have received a free copy when you signed up for my newsletter.  Pssst…this story is not available for sale anywhere else, only to my ViP subscribers 😉. If you have read it, I’d love to hear what you thought, so please drop me a line.  If you haven’t, what  are you waiting for ? 😃
Yes, Professor Snape was another  VERY  interesting side character in the Harry Potter fantasy series!  But that’s not why I included the above image…I wanted to emphasize that learning to write good fiction takes a lot of time, and there are SO many aspects that need to be absorbed. For instance:  how to create good side characters.  I recently took a workshop all about this topic, in which the teacher discussed the two main reasons why a side character should exist. 
To summarize:  the side character MUST move the plot forward– –they can’t just stand there juggling flaming balls and then wander off, they have to contribute to the action somehow, OR the side character MUST tell or show us something about the main characters; something the main characters can’t convey. In other words, side characters are not simply colourful or amusing creations, they need to serve a clear purpose, or else they will clutter and confuse the narrative.Who knew ? 🧐 The workshop made a lot of sense to me, and I was relieved to learn that I was already doing this instinctively with my side characters. Why?  Because I am a writing genius? 😏 I’d like to think so, but the main reason a writer does something ‘right’ is because they have read and read and read books by other fantastically talented authors, and have absorbed their good writing habits by some sort of literary osmosis.That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! And, judging by the review I just posted below of Where the Moon Has Been, at least one reader is on my SIDE !! Get it??? 😂. Here’s a great song by Canadian singer songwriter twins Tegan an Sara: https://music.apple.com/ca/alb…Have a great month and I’ll talk to you in June🌞🌻
     https://www.amazon.com/Where-Moon-Been-Judith-Lepore-ebook/dp/B09FL25P5J/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Where+the+Moon+Has+Been&qid=1631465312&s=digital-text&sr=1-1https://www.kobo.com/ebook/where-the-moon-has-beenhttps://play.google.com/store/books/details/Judith_Lepore_Where_the_Moon_Has_Been?id=uwBAEAAAQBAJwww.judithlepore.com    https://books2read.com/u/baGj5Q

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“Reika: The Fugitive Princess of Berlot”