The Sycophant

August 4, 2010 at 5:47 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


I’ve jumped works in progress for the time. I wasn’t making progress on one draft and I wanted to write so I decided to have a look at an earlier abandoned project (rather than starting yet another never to be finished project). Interestingly, even though I abandoned the project because I felt it was too flat, reading it after having a fairly lengthy space, I was drawn in to the story and the characters again and when I got to where I’d abandoned the project I was disappointed that the story didn’t finish.

So working between project I am now trying to reacquaint myself with some of my earlier character creations and it is amazing how fast they come back (all giving me dirty looks and muttering about being cast aside).

One of the characters I particularly enjoyed reading about again and getting to know all over again is the sycophant. This isn’t actually his name though it may as well be. It is what he is called by pretty much all the other characters and even though he is only a minor character in the story, he manages pretty effectively to be despised in the most amusing of ways.

I’d clearly also used the thesaurus when writing the draft originally because I noticed I was very careful not to endlessly repeat the word sycophant, even though I really enjoy that word. It rolls right off the tongue and always gives just the right amount of contempt and loathing.

Anyway – alternatives to sycophant:

  • toady
  • appeaser
  • crawler
  • flatterer
  • follower
  • greaser
  • hanger-on
  • parasite

All of them very flattering words.

Incidentally, when introducing the character I don’t tell the reader that he is a sycophant. I have one of my other characters call him one within the first few lines of him entering the story and then back it up by having him carry out some very toady like actions. His character is established and I haven’t once said to the reader (by the way, you’re meant to dislike this character).

I’ve since also moved on from this project but I think the time will come very soon when I’m going to have to finish this one.

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27 Comments

  1. cubbageg said,

    Also “lackey”! Especially when preceded by words like “miserable,”

  2. Agatha82 said,

    I love the way you’ve chosen to introduce him, that’s a great way of doing it. Does the poor boy have a name though?

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      He does have a name but I’ve changed it twice already. His character is so very minor and he’s usually referred ot as such and such’s toady, boot-licker etc. Okay, he is a poor boy. I feel sorry for him now.

      • Agatha82 said,

        Oh dear, I made you feel bad, aw…give the poor lad a name…[I’m the writer equivalent of those people who take in stray cats…]

  3. AlexJ said,

    Toady is a colorful description.

  4. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    I have a feeling this guy is going to be a scene-stealer! Sort of like Uriah Heep stole every scene away from David. 🙂

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      He kind of does but it doesn’t really derail the story and I think that I’m glad he’s only a minor character. Too much of him would just be too much to take.

  5. Crystal said,

    Great post, Cassandra! It sounds as if you should go back and work on that project! With the characters coming alive so easily for you after the extended period of time – wow, that’s a great sign!

    And I agree with you — sycophant is a really cool word! It does just roll off the tongue, AND it sounds very descriptive of a creepy person! LOL ——

  6. Jemi Fraser said,

    Sounds like a fabulous secondary character. They’re often the most fun to write. 🙂

    PS – I’ve got an award for you over at my blog.

  7. Hart said,

    A sycophant would make an EXCELLENT cozy mystery character–I love the idea! Glad your work that you’d set aside is all coming back and I hope the story flows for you! (gives me hope for the books sitting in my ‘to edit’ pile!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I’m sure many more of my set aside stories would like the chance to be worked on from time to time.

  8. Carol Kilgore said,

    I don’t have any unfinished manuscripts, but I do have some I might revisit one day.

  9. Talli Roland said,

    I love the word sycophant, too. It just has a nice ring to it – so emotive!

  10. Artswebshow said,

    yes. lol. very flattering words

  11. catwoods said,

    What a fun character analysis. I love when I reread something I thought was dead only to find the magical spark still glowiing.

    Best luck as you move on with your WIP!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      It has been quite fun re-reading a number of my older projects. I’m finding some interesting stories that I probably shouldn’t have put aside.

  12. elisajeglin said,

    I hope to revisit some of my tossed aside stories someday…hopefully I’ll be as pleasantly surprised. Your character sounds interesting…and I’m curious what the rest of the story is about…I guess I’ll have to wait ;p

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I’m curious as to where it will end up. I actually planned the story but I don’t know that I’m definitely going to follow the plan along when I pick it back up.

  13. Carol Ann Hoel said,

    I have seen in my mind your toady character by the way you described him. Making characters live is a fun part of writing. I can tell you were having fun.

  14. Deb Salisbury said,

    The sycophant sounds like a fun character. He may just do all sorts of damage to your MC – in revenge for being called a toad! 😉

  15. Glynis Smy said,

    I had one and he became a main POV half way through. Your ‘nameless’ guy sounds as if he could do the same. Be warned LOL 🙂

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I hope not. I don’t think he’s got enough depth to his personality to really carry a story. Still, we never know what our characters may take it into their heads to do.

  16. Miss Rosemary said,

    I love reading old things and actually liking it! So much better than hating it (which is waht happens most of the time! lol) And I like the sound of this character. Sometimes minor characters become justas loved (or hated) and the principle ones becasue the author realy makes them shine through. It’s also a good thing that you don’t have the narrator describe him as a sycophant. Let his actions and words of others do the descriptions for you.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Yes, I was pleasantly surprised. When I first put this aside I was sure that was the end of it. Apparently not.

  17. Glynis Smy said,

    Take him to one side and interview him, find out his depth. He might surprise you ;0

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