Ten Things You Don’t Know About Maggie Summer

Yes, this is Lea Wait, and Maggie Summer is the protagonist in my seven book (so far) Shadows Antique Print Mystery series.

Recently I conducted a writing workshop and one of the pieces of advice I shared was that every character in a book — yes, even the minor ones – should have a secret. Maybe many secrets. And, no, they don’t have to be revealed in the book. (Or books, if it’s a series.) But the author should know what those secrets are, because their secrets can  influence a character to do one thing … or another.

After all — we all have secrets, big or small. And, no, I’m not going to tell you mine. (Maybe another time. Or maybe I’ll give one of mine to one of my characters …..) If you’re in doubt, think for a moment. Have you (or your character) every shoplifted? Lied to a parent, a spouse .. or a policeman? Had too much to drink and told someone off? Used illegal drugs? Used prescribed drugs when they weren’t prescribed? Cheated on a test? Slept with someone who was “off-limits”? Pretended to be someone you weren’t?  Exaggerated (or totally invented) an accomplishment?  Been arrested? Lied to protect someone else?  Lied about your age? Called in sick when you were feeling fine? Turned down an opportunity because you were afraid of something?

OK – some of those things are more serious than others. Often the seriousness would depend on the circumstances … and consequences.

But none of us are perfect.

So … although I won’t tell you my secrets … here are ten of Maggie’s.

1.  She knew her husband was cheating on her long before she found the evidence.

2.  She drinks Diet Pepsi, but she keeps a secret supply of chocolate in that red canvas bag she carries, and sometimes she eats it all.

3. She hasn’t heard from her brother in over ten years – and she’s glad. She’s afraid of him.

4. She wants to be a mother because she’s sure she can be a better mother than HER mother was.

5. She’s afraid to be dependent on any man, because she doesn’t trust men not to leave.

6. One reason she wants to adopt is that a high school friend of hers was forced (by her parents) to give her baby up for adoption.  And Maggie was jealous  of her friend’s pregnancy.

7. She doesn’t drink much wine because she’s afraid of losing control.

8. She’s an intellectual snob.  She judges people by the books they read.

9. She’s allergic to perfume.

10. She thinks her legs are ugly, so she wears slacks instead of dresses.

Will any of these  secrets influence her life?  Stay tuned!


3 Responses

  1. I like this advice and have heard it from other mystery authors. I think it helps make our characters deeper, give them back story and resonance. There’s the book that’s written and then there’s the book that doesn’t get written, every time.

  2. An interesting way to look at one’s characters.

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