I’m now up to around 64,500 words in my third Russian novel, which puts me at roughly a seventh of the way done, if my guesstimate of the final length proves to be correct. I’m on Chapter 10. So much of my writing style has been influenced by the older books and classic literature I’ve read, and my approach to chapters is no different. I see chapters as like mininature novels unto themselves, and so I always title my chapters and structure them like short stories, not just 3-5 page episodes.
In Chapter 9, my second-favorite female character of these books, Katrin, finally made her first appearance, along with her best friend Anastasiya. Anastasiya was one of the antagonists of the first book, but she’s a much nicer antagonist than Boris. She was also somewhat antagonistic in the sequel, but again, she’s not evil. She’s just self-absorbed and hypocritical, not stupid or really mean-spirited. And she provides great unintentional comedy. I love writing her.
Katrin’s awesome butler Mr. Rhodes also made his first appearance of the book in Chapter 9. I love my butler characters, even though they’re just secondary characters. He didn’t have a name in the first book, though I named Katrin’s maid and cook in the first book. I have plans to use him in a Part II scene where Anastasiya is caught and called out once and for all re: her pathetic “mothering” of her secret bastard son Dmitriy. Mr. Rhodes is one of the few people who’s able to shut her down when she tries to cop an attitude.
Secondary and minor characters can be just as fun to write as major characters. Sometimes they can even steal the show.
“She’s our mistress. You’re just the unwed mother friend she moved back into her penthouse to save your name from scandal and ruin. And you’ve been just as insufferable as you were when you lived with us before. Thank God young Dmítriy doesn’t even recognize you as his mother and can be brought up to be a nice young man, not a selfish, superficial, annoying person like you.”
“Must you be so vulgar and hateful in front of children?” Mr. Rhodes asks as he’s dusting a bookshelf. “I like how you pride yourself on being so ladylike and modest, and yet cavalierly making such shocking remarks about such personal matters.”
“You know Russian, Mr. Butler?” Fédya asks.
“After working for Mrs. Kalvik-Nikonova for so many years, I’ve picked it up. They do say the butler sees and hears everything.”
Katrin’s butler Mr. Rhodes raises his eyebrow at her. “Morality aside, at least someone who works in a brothel is earning a living through that behavior. She’s not the one who has a bastard son and goes to great lengths to hide her shame from the public.” He goes back to dusting. “You seem to forget that the butler sees and hears everything. I know Estonian and Russian as well as my native English by this point.”