Fellow writers out there. Have you ever written an extra character into a chapter or a section just because there’s a rôle that needs filling – but you warm to them unexpectedly?

‘Tess’ was only one of several main characters in A Jersey Midsummer Dream but I liked her enough to give her a sequel of her own. My first novel Barry had young Mary who, with a couple of significant personality disorders, I’d maybe like to reprise sometime.

In my present WIP I have a scene set in a Darwin bar. The afternoon barmaid is Chantilly (just changed from Sian) and she’s the sort that I’d like to explore a bit more in the future. Here’s a short extract.

The few other customers ignored him. A couple of old fellas were playing dominoes, click clack. An old lady with her shopping supped a half down the other end. One lone drinker perched at the bar in the mid-afternoon.

And Donal, head in his hands, elbows on the table, shoulders shaking gently.

Chantilly checked unnecessarily for waiting customers, lifted the hatch and wandered over to his table.

‘Everything OK mate?’

A surprised Donal peered through his fingers, saw the chit of a barmaid, gulped what may have been an answer and resumed his former position.

‘Well f*** you too!’ She went to turn away on her heel but something made her hesitate. Donal looked up again and removed his hands from his face, sat up straight, blinked at her.

‘You stopped crying like a Sheila now?’

Donal looked at her. It had been a long time since a young person, a woman at that, had addressed him so directly. A short little thing, cropped hair dyed yellow, pixie face, silver stud in her nose, arms folded over her red T-shirt, jeans rolled up just below her knees. Crikey, Donal thought, kids get away with anything these days.

Abruptly she turned and walked back to the bar, reached over and grabbed a few tissues from a box. She marched back to the table and held them out to him. Stood back warily in case he exploded. The dominoes players glanced across, though with minimal interest, before resuming their pushing and tapping.Lone drinker

Donal wiped his eyes, blew his nose.

‘Another?’ Chantilly pointed at his near-empty glass. He took the final swig and held it out to her. She served the man sitting at the bar then poured a glass of lager for Donal and a Coke for herself. She took them over, placed them on the table and sat herself down in a chair across the table from him. He fumbled in his pocket.

‘Nah, it’s OK. That’s on me.’

‘Well, thank you Miss.’ Donal managed.

‘Hey it talks! I thought you were from the deaf and dumb school. So, you doing OK, Donal ain’t it?’ His eyebrows went up, the glass half way to his lips. This wasn’t the banter he was used to with his night-time crowd. He guessed he had better attempt conversation with this alien creature.

How about you guys? Have any of your minor characters surprised you, calling for a bigger part?

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