Treat all your secondary characters like they think the book’s about them. ~Jocelyn Hughes
When we first started I didn’t fully understand this truism. I feared secondary characters would overwhelm the story, like wearing too many accessories, you lose the dress.
Would Aladdin have been the same without Abu the Monkey or Carpet?
There is actually a voice in my head this week thinking he needs his own chapter. (Yes yes I know you got a cut and shave for the revision – I promise to finish today!)
Secondary characters are more than costume jewelry, they add depth and interest to the story and often tell us more about the MCs (main characters) than their own words or actions do. (I know you know all the secrets)
- Provide background – they are the thread we use to weave in backstory without Hamletesque soliloquies or narrative info dumps.
- Highlight MC’s personality – especially in romance where the main characters are discovering each other, but the reader needs to know if the hero secretly feeds stray dogs or the heroine steals tips form her co-workers. Our Seconds help us invest our emotions
- Save the day – Han Solo, Neville Longbottom
Sometimes they are more or equally as interesting as the Mains (You’re fascinating. That’s why you are getting more page space.Let me finish this post.)
- Alice Cullen – Twilight
- Luna Lovegoode – Harry Potter
- Dougal MacKenzie…OK the entire supporting cast of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.
- Cramer – Seinfeld
- Gunther – Friends
- Fritz the Butler – Black Dagger Brotherhood
- Joshua Deets – Lonesome Dove
- Tom Builder – Pillars of the Earth
- Alice Fairfax – Jane Eyre
- Colonel FitzWilliam – Pride & Prejudice (Hell’s Bells you are not our answer to Colonel FitzWilliam)
Don’t get me started on Game of Thrones Secondary Character line-up…not that any of them live long enough to be a MC! (No! I do not want you to have a “talk” with George R R Martin…then again, he did kill Ned.)
Who are your favorite Secondary Characters? Who do you wish had their own book, or movie? Have I missed any who were much more interesting than the MCs?