As I revise my way through “The Crimson League” once again (this time after editor’s notes, yea!) I realize I have come this past year to a great appreciation for a particular minor character I never gave much thought to.
His name is Hayden Grissner. He is barely of age, and he joins the resistance movement against a magical tyrant with his far louder and more noticeable cousin, Bidd.
Being so young, he isn’t given the chance to contribute all that much to the movement individually. He’s not one of the star players, but he does many things behind the scenes. His contributions are subtle, but they aren’t unimportant.
What I have come to really appreciate about Hayden is what his character shows about the value of deep, sacrificial, quiet loyalty and true friendship. There’s something almost Christ-like about that aspect of him, reminiscent of the “lamb led to the slaughter” who “opens not his mouth.”
- Hayden isn’t temperamentally super outgoing. He’s not brash. I envision him as an introvert, who in peacetime would have his hobbies and his close friends and his work to which he was diligent. Physical courage doesn’t come easily to him, despite his skill with a bow. But he fights in civil war without complaint.
- He’s that person who other people easily overlook when he’s around, but they notice when he’s gone. He’s solid, dependable, and loyal. He is true to his word and has real integrity.
- He has his priorities straight, and as much as he loves his cousin Bidd, who is more gullible and more spontaneous, he doesn’t let Bidd talk him into doing stupid things. Bidd draws Hayden out of his shell in lots of valuable ways, but Hayden also stabilizes Bidd.
- Hayden matters as well as contributes more than I think he does. The simple fact that his superiors in the movement (one in particular) know that they can trust him and depend on him makes a significant difference.
I imagine a lot of creative writers have a temperament like Hayden. Writers are dreamers. They live in their heads, and I’d think a large percentage don’t care too much about worldly honors or power. They just want to contribute to something bigger to themselves and add some joy to the lives of other people.
Hayden’s is not a bad temperament to have, because life isn’t about being flashy or about fame. It’s not primarily about worldly achievements. It’s about relationships and about integrity. Hayden understands that, and more, he lives it in very difficult circumstances. He never grudges other people drawing attention over him.
He knows that he has a specific role, one of support, and that while it isn’t glamorous, it’s critical. He embraces that call. And I think that’s lovely. The world would be a horribly unstable and shallow place without people like Hayden.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy this one
about secondary characters and this one about my protagonist and self-pity.