Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Musing craft #amrevising


I open the back door to my writing office, fresh off a walk. I find walking and thinking about whatever I’m writing, whether brainstorming a new story or plotline or pondering revisions, go together well. Even if I might look a little loony if someone decided to watch me walk and talk things through.

“Well, it’s about time you came back, love.” My Muse leans on my desk, sweating bottle of water in hand.

I finish toeing off my shoes before I look up. Oh. My. His tank top–wait, muscle shirt–shows off his sculpted shoulders and biceps. The cargo shorts don’t detract at all–trust me. And he’s got that five o’clock shadow thing going, just at that rougish stage.

He raises a brow.

Oh, yeah. “You know where I was. And I didn’t see you anywhere helping figure out how to strengthen my supporting characters in Book 2.”

“And why do you suppose they aren’t quite ‘there’ yet?”

I make my way past him to the mini-fridge to grab my own water. “I don’t know. That’s the problem. It’s like I want them to be in the background, but they can’t be. Shouldn’t be. They should seem just as real as my MCs.”

“Okay, so why aren’t they?”

I drop into one of the recliners in the alcove and swallow some cool water. It’s the question I’ve been trying to answer since I got feedback from my agent on Book 2. I thought I rounded them out a bit, but apparently not enough. She made good points, and I can see how their characters are lacking. I’m just not entirely sure how to beef them up.


“I’m thinking.”

He settles into the other recliner. “You’re thinking too hard.”

I can feel him staring at me. “Stop that.”

“You know how to fix it. You agent made good suggestions.”

“Yes, she did.”

“So? What’s the problem?”

I take another sip of water to stall. What is the problem?

“You know what it is, love. Say it.”

Damn it. “I don’t want them to be the focus of the story.”

“Not quite. Try again.”

Fine. “I don’t want them to take attention away from my MC.”

He smiles, the divot in his chin deepening. “She has to share the stage, love. It’s okay for other characters to figure out the mystery.”

“Not if the story belongs to my MC.”

A momentary frown crosses his face. “You’re right, not figure it out, but they have a stake in solving the mystery.”

“They do, but their actions are limited to pushing for answers, not digging around for them. That’s the job of my MCs.”

“Okay, so how can they do more pushing for answers? And remember, they have insights, too.” He finishes his water and tosses the bottle into the “Recycle” bin. “I can bring them over for a chat.”

“Not necessary.” I consider what he’s saying. They have insights …

My Muse grins. “There you go, love. I knew you’d figure it out.”

“Maybe, but will that be enough to fix the character issues? If they push to poke around for themselves, but my MC discourages them–to keep them safe?”

“You won’t know until you try.”

That’s the struggle, isn’t it? This is my first “book 2” (I do have a sequel drafted for my police procedural, but that’s a different formula because the MCs jobs are to solve the crime). I think part of the challenge is keeping in mind that readers may not have read the first book, so as the author you have to introduce the MCs again, and let the reader know the MCs nuances and stuff. I think that’s part of the reason I resist giving the secondary characters more of the story. I want the story to be about my MCs, but they aren’t in the story by themselves; the other characters need to be just as real to the readers, not just character actors from General Casting.

So, back to the revision board. And maybe my Muse has the right idea about bringing the characters over for a chat. We’ll see. I’ve got to look through my agent’s feedback in depth this weekend (I’ve already skimmed it) and keep this convo with my Muse in mind.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, five chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

5 thoughts on “Musing craft #amrevising

  1. Ah, that’s always the thing with secondary characters. You want them to be just as real as the main character, but at the same time, they’re not the main character. I once had a secondary character who was so strong she insisted on having her own story. So I wrote her one. In real life, people do step on and off the stage, and share it with others. I think that can happen in books, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, Margot. It’s something I thought I did okay with, but these particular characters in this particular book haven’t been as real to me as others have. Maybe that’s my problem. I should probably let my Muse invite them over for coffee. 🙂 And I sure hope they don’t get any ideas about their own stories; I’m having enough trouble getting the ones I’m working on going.

      Happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Intriguing thoughts on side characters. I hope you can easily figure out where to go with them!

    Zoey’s looking at me so coy. “Mew mew, Zoe-zoe. Snarf. Meow.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Easily? Not sure on that. I kinda knew what I wanted them to be, but I didn’t (and still don’t) know them as well as I should, I suppose. I do have some ideas, though, so hopefully those will round them out enough to make them more real.

      And my son and his gf brought Nyx and Juniper over last week. Juni is soooo soft! She’s probably going to be as big as Tibbers, judging by how big she is now, and she’s only 4 months old. Adorable! And my son and his gf take the cats (Nyx and Juni) on walks in a cat stroller. Yes, you read that right. The cats LOVE to be outside, but even though they have them trained to wear harnesses, Nyx is an escape artist. Never thought one of my kids would use a cat stroller, but the cats absolutely love it.

      Happy Writing, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • OMGoodness! How fun to give the cats a ride in a stroller! Haha. Can you try to get a picture of that? Oh, Juni, I want to sink my fingers in your soft, cuddly fur! Or Nyx! Or both! One for each hand… Mmmmm…. purrr…

        Best of luck exploring the lives/motivations/back stories of your side characters! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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