Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Secondary Characters are like Dessert

I’ve never had a cheesecake I didn’t like, have you?

Secondary characters are my favorite. Yeah, the main characters are cool and in love and tough and go through all these obstacles. But the secondary characters add pizazz to everything- yes, I said pizazz. *Spirit fingers.* 

Something about being a minor or secondary character gives them freedom to do and say whatever the heck they want. Without good secondary characters, your MS could end up like a pumpkin spice latte without the spice. Bland. I know I’m using a lot of food analogies here, but seriously, who doesn’t understand food? 

Hot chocolate is delicious, but add some marshmallows or fluff and YUM!
But seriously; secondary characters are IMPORTANT. It’s hard to get into a story that only has the main hero/heroine and a villain thrown in. Someone needs to be there to cut in so they don’t spend all 400 pages making out and being angsty. 

Okay, so I might have lied about not having read a secondary character I didn’t like, and maybe I made a cheese cake that was too lemony and it wasn’t so great either. Those would be the secondary characters that aren’t really characters. They’re plot tools, placed in the story line for only one reason—to forward the MC along somehow. To betray them, to help them get information they couldn’t have gotten themselves, to be a part of a love triangle—the list can go on.

These are characters that I wouldn’t even call characters. They’re plot tools.  They may have a reason to betray the MC at the last minute, but it’s shallow and not tapped into and looked into as deeply as needed. 

Secondary characters shouldn’t be used as a tool or crutch for information needing to be relayed to the MC—or a savior at the perfect time. They should be incorporated and woven in with the good and the bad. They should be their own main character of their own story. It’s hard to get a good grasp of how much is too much. 

Now… writing a good secondary character is just as hard as writing a great MC. They have to have the same amount of personality, background, wants, and needs as the main characters and villains, except we don’t see as much as we see the MC’s, so you have to fit in glimpses of them.

I love a good secondary character that takes the spot light, but doesn’t overwhelm.


  1. Huzzah for secondary characters! You know you've got a good one when writing spin-off novellas or full novels about a secondary character's past or side adventure comes easy ;-). Plus, those are great things to have ready for when your main series takes off :D