From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Eponine

Have you ever had that experience where you're watching a movie or reading a book and about half way through you're like, this side character is a lot more interesting and engaging than the main character.

It kind of happens to me a lot.

I have pretty much always been annoyed by Marius and Cozette since I read Les Miserables. They're okay, but Eponine is just so much cooler. She's clever, a little bit funny, and most especially, not wishy-washy and spineless like Marius and Cozette occasionally are.

Look at Lord of the Rings as another example. I would be more than okay submitting that Frodo is pretty much the least interesting character in the series. Aragorn is pretty epic, and Gimli is hilarious, but you know who the best character is? Samwise Gamgee of course! His loyalty, stubborness, optimism and just all-around Hobbitness make him the best of all the things.

Or take Harry Potter. Harry himself is pretty cool, but I personally find characters like Snape and Remus a lot more interesting.

I think I've discovered a similarity in all the stories in which I find secondary characters a lot more interesting than the MC's. All of them are Ensemble stories. They rely on a big cast. Harry Potter, LOTR and Les Miserables all have a host of intricately woven character arcs. In Ensemble stories like that, I think it works to have a more neutral main character, because they sort of act as the nucleus for all the crazies running about around them. Maybe Sam and Gandalf and Aragorn are cooler than Frodo, but their stories and their coolness sort of revolve around Frodo. Same with Harry Potter and Les Miserables.

My roommate and I went to the new Captain America movie last night (SO GOOD!) and without giving away any spoilers, probably my favorite moment was when a very minor and very terrified secondary character chose to stand up to the bad guys even though he literally had a gun to his head. So even though it was a very hero-centric movie, and I absolutely adore Cap, stories can still be enhanced by emotionally engaging secondary and minor characters.

And I can't help but leave you with my favorite song from Les Miserables, in large part due to the soul shakingly good voice of another E character--Enjoras.


What do you think? Are there secondary characters that you like better than their main character counterparts?

Sarah Allen

17 comments:

  1. I also think people have preferences of who they like so it's sometimes a matter of opinion but I've always like Luna Lovegood rather Harry and I also wanted Harry to get together with Luna. I think she compliments him more than Ginny.

    hope you have a great day.

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  2. Visiting on the 5th day of the #challenge looking for fellow writers. We must be distant kissing cousins..white chocolate, KIng Charles spaniels and Colin Firth….ME TOO! Congratulations on your blog. If you have time or interest, I'm writing about gardening and related topics this month. One of my Pinterest boards have images of the spaniels. Hope to see you at the garden gate.

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  3. I've tried not to upstage my main characters, although I do have favorite secondary characters.
    Captain America II is awesome!! Best Avengers movie outside of The Avengers. Will be challenging to review on Monday as I can't say anything about the plot without giving things away.

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  4. Nice one for today. I haven't seen the movie but I did get to see Les Miserables performed live in New York City when I was in high school. We also performed a medley of the songs in choir and I used her son (On My Own) for voice lessons. Did prefer her over Cosette.

    At times I do like a side character more than the main character but it's not often enough that I've noticed or remember any specifically.

    A to Z commenter
    Reading at Dawn blog

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  5. Eponine is cool, although Valjean and Javier are my favorite and second-favorite respectively. Annabeth from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is almost as awesome as Percy (the 1st-person narrator), but doesn't overshadow him in any way.

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  6. Eponine is my favourite character too. I agree about Marius and Cosette, they are a bit wishy washy. I just saw, by the way, that the guy who played Javert (Norm Lewis) in one of the concerts has been given the part of The Phantom. He has a wonderful voice.

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  7. I will herewith admit I am a Star Trek fan, and this is another ensemble where the secondary characters are more compelling than the "stars' - Spock and Kirk. My own favorite is Scottie, who injects humor into every scene.

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  8. often it's the fact the side character doesn't have to carry a large plot that makes it easier to make them fun and interesting. If they were front and centre they might not be so great.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  9. I think authors are often aware that secondary characters are interesting -this is why there are spinoffs. ;-) And sometimes you wonder why all the fuss. Like Cedric Diggory. Before Goblet of Fire came out, we were told a beloved character woud die...and then it was a young man who had appeared for about five minutes in Prisoner of Azkaban and most of that offstage. And only a little more in GOF.

    But point taken. I agree about Sam Gamgee, though as a nerd I'd rather go out with Faramir(but Sam can cook me fish and chips any time!)

    In Harry Potter, Snape is the most interesting character, but as a teacher I don't know if I'd want to work with him.
    Scotty, yes! But I was a Spock fan from the start, when I discovered it in my teens. And also, Uhura, a good strong character even before the recent movies. And Sulu.

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  10. That's my favorite song from Les Mis too, love it. And love Eponine.

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  11. I think it's all so subjective. For example, personally,I can't even manage to watch an entire Harry Potter movie. And others love them.

    http://kahleenamaccarthy.blogspot.com/2014/04/atozchallenge-e-gaelic.html

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  12. Hi Sarah! New follower here :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! My secondary characters almost always run away with the spoon! I'm an actress first, and I'm accustomed to creating thru-lines for all of my characters before I write them. I don't want to neglect my secondaries, so I always end up writing very elaborate back histories for them. I end up having to hack a lot of scenes that revolve solely around the secondaries in order to maintain a decent word count!

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  13. Hi Sarah! New follower here :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! My secondary characters almost always run away with the spoon! I'm an actress first, and I'm accustomed to creating thru-lines for all of my characters before I write them. I don't want to neglect my secondaries, so I always end up writing very elaborate back histories for them. I end up having to hack a lot of scenes that revolve solely around the secondaries in order to maintain a decent word count!

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  14. Enjoras - sigh. I love him in every version of Les Mis I've ever seen. I think Eponine was totally cheated! Who would pick sniveling Cozet over clever Eponine - COME ON! Must be the parents issue.

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  15. Definitely! In THE HELP. I can't remember the character's name, but it was the sassy maid who cooked a little something special into a pie for another nasty character.

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  16. One of my all time favorite reads was a YA called Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway. I can't remember Audrey's sidekick's name, but she was one of the best secondary characters I've ever seen. The book wouldn't have been nearly as good without her.

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  17. The only time I liked Marius was Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Otherwise I really wanted to punch him and Cosette in the nose.

    They were so....blah. The rest of the characters were great in Les Mis (book/musical/movie) but man...Marius and Cosette. Barf.

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