The Bogart Rule: An Author’s Guide to Supporting Characters

Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart

Nightmares were a real son of a bitch last night so, please, excuse this post. The brain is firing on all kind of weird cylinders so this could get a little weird… Aren’t you glad you dropped by? *smirks*

“Key Largo” is playing in the background as I try to stitch together enough coherent thoughts to make this blog not too terribly embarrassing.

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor and Lionel Barrymore… talk about star power! Even if the story had been crap (which it was most definitely not) this picture would still light up a movie screen like a couple million diamonds.

Whenever I’m working on developing a supporting character for my stories, I always aim to give them the screen presence of one those great classic actors like Bogart, Robinson or Barrymore. Especially in romance novels where the two major characters almost by definition need to be beautiful in either mind or spirit, a minor character can be real.

I love making up the “real” characters that inevitably populate my stories. They’re rarely gorgeous, they’re always flawed but their “screen” presence is always memorable.

Admittedly, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Occasionally, these minor characters end up trying to steal the show from the main stars. I hate having to beat them back down. I feel guilty about it, like I was some director telling Bogey to hold it back a little. “We don’t want the audience only looking at you, son.”

Yeah, like that could ever happen with Humphrey Bogart on the screen.

And that’s how I want it to be with each of my “minor” players… a Bogart  no matter what the lousy director says.

Until tonight…

Chloe, the lousy director

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