Don’t Panic

I had a hard time picking one book that had an influence on my writing. I see-sawed between To Kill A Mockingbird, Dark Lover, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yeah, three vastly different books, but I had to go with The Hitchhiker’s Guide.

I was in college when I first read this book. I didn’t want to read it because it wasn’t my normal genre, but a friend convinced me to give it a try. I was so glad that I did. I never expected it to be funny, never expected that I would enjoy following Arthur Dent’s adventures, but it’s one book I’ll read over and over again.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say my books are as funny as Douglas Adams’ books, but this series helped me realize that humor can be found anywhere. Between the situations the characters find themselves in, the secondary characters, and the absurdity of the story, you can’t help but laugh.

For me though, the biggest influence Adams’ book made on my writing is his use of secondary characters to add humor, tension, and background information. Who doesn’t adore Marvin the Paranoid Android? Who doesn’t find Zaphod a completely intriguing rogue? Adams is my hero simply because he gave us minor characters who aren’t minor at all.

I love writing secondary characters; as far as I’m concerned, they’re one of the best parts of a writing a book. I end up loving them almost as much (if not more) as I do the main characters. For a writer, as Adams shows in his books, secondary characters can change the entire tone of the story. Would Arthur’s journey been so humorous if he hadn’t come into contact with Marvin or Zaphod? Probably not. Oh, sure, we would’ve chuckled at the things that happen to him, but those secondary characters helped keep the humor and pacing of his story.

Don’t panic, my friends. When your story and characters seem a little stale, grab a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and lose yourself in the intergalactic romp. Discover the subtle…and not-so-subtle humor laced in Adams’ writing. Humor is a great tool no matter what genre you write. Find it. Sharpen it. Use it liberally.

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About danicaavet

Danica Avet lives and writes in the wilds of South Louisiana. Unmarried with no children, she's the proud pet of two cats and a dog. With a BA in History, she decided there were enough fry cooks in the world and tried her hand at writing. Danica loves losing herself in the antics of her characters and blushes more often than not at the things they do. She likes to define her work as paranormal romance with a touch of Cajun spice, but most times her characters turn the notch up to "five-alarm fire"!
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13 Responses to Don’t Panic

  1. Daisy Harris says:

    I knew there was a reason I loved you! I actually haven’t read the book- but Hitckhiker’s Guide is my absolute favorite movie ever. I watch it over and over again! And you’re right- the characters are all fantastic. How great was it that in the movie version Marvin the robot was played by Alan Rickman?

    Good call, hon!

    Daisy

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    • danicaavet says:

      Oh you definitely have to read the whole series! These aren’t my normal “speed” of books, but they’re so entertaining, I can’t help myself. I thought Alan Rickman was a perfect Marvin! Okay, so Marvin was always my favorite character anyway…and adding Mr. Hunka-Hunka Alan Rickman just made it that much better!

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  2. jeff7salter says:

    Danica, I love secondary characters also. I may have mentioned before that I’ve had characters (in my 6 novel ms) which I basically needed to ‘walk-on’ and provide some bit of info or give the main character a person to verbalize with. But in several cases, I’ve found those ‘walk-ons’ so interesting that I brought them back for other scenes. In at least two of those cases, the walk-on became a major plot mover.
    In my first series of three ms., I had a walk-on who I needed for one scene. In the second ms, I gave her more back-story and involved her in the climactic scene (and aftermath). In the third of that series, she’s nearly as prominent as the leading players!
    Oh, and I love “to Kill A Mockingbird”.

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    • danicaavet says:

      That’s what happened in my first series as well. I had a character who showed up in a small scene and I loved her so much, I brought her into the second book for another small scene. By the third book, she appeared in four different scenes and played a major role in the resolution. I loved her so much, I had to write her story and that’s the fourth book of the series I’m working on. I love how she grew on me and I just wanted to find out more about her.

      I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird just for the hell of it so many times I’ve lost count. It’s one of my favorite books, but not nearly as funny as The Hitchhiker’s Guide, LOL

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  3. I love this book!! AND yes, I was thrilled when they cast Alan!! Yippee, Skippy. I love secondary characters, too. In SOLO HONEYMOON, I’ve got Emma’s best friend and lots of people ask me when I’m going to tell her story. Even had one reviewer say she wished the friend was the main character. I wanted to say that that would never work since she wasn’t depressed since she had no fiance to cheat on her. DUH!! LOL!

    I live to laugh so I try to add humor to my stories as much as I can.

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    • danicaavet says:

      When I wrote my first Olympian book, one of my CPs said she couldn’t wait for one particular character’s story and I was like…but she isn’t ready for her story to be told yet! It’s funny how people (including me) become attached to certain characters. I suppose that’s when you know you’ve got a good story; when people want to read about what happens to the other characters.

      And you know I have to have humor in my stories! LOL

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  4. Lynn Rush says:

    I’ve heard of this one…even the movie…haven’t gotten into it yet, though. I’m going to check it out. Jeepers, my To Be Read and To Be Watched list is growing exponentially.

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  5. Danica,
    Lately I’ve found that secondary characters are almost more fun to write than the protag! You’re absolutely right about what they lend to a story, and the extra emotion you can pack in when you really flesh them out.

    Looks like I’ll be adding Hitchhiker’s Guide to my TBR list…

    Like

    • danicaavet says:

      It’s a great book for writers who want to see what kind of impact secondary characters can have on the story. Of course, I don’t read it for that, but I realize that’s where I picked up my love of a full “cast” of characters for my books. And then I turn around and love writing them as much, if not more, than the main characters! LOL

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