Don’t Forget About Your Secondary Characters

By on May 4, 2017
Don’t Forget About Your Secondary Characters - Writer's

For many writers much of their story is focused on their protagonist - this is the main character in your novel, the one whose journey we follow throughout, the one we are most invested in, and the one who really counts.

However, no book has one character alone, and it is important to pay just as much attention to developing your secondary characters in order to make your story a memorable one.

So many well-loved heroes and heroines have a sidekick that they couldn’t live without. From a sarcastic best friend to a supportive sibling or a wise and inspiring mentor - these characters are significant, and in some cases can even become the secret star of the show.

So how can you make sure that you give your secondary characters the attention that they deserve? Here are some easy ways to ensure that they stand out and add depth and new dimensions to your work.

Make them funny

Your protagonist's sidekick is a great character to make the ‘funny one’ in your story. Even if your story is a serious one, injecting humour here and there will really bring it to life and help your readers engage with it further. Having a token funny character can provide relief from intense scenes and secondary characters are the ideal people to inject humour into your novel.

Give them secrets

Building a little mystery into your novel is always a good thing, and secondary characters will stand out more if readers are intrigued by them. By giving your characters a secret they become exciting and readers, therefore, want to know more about them. The secret must be integral to the story in order to align with readers expectations, and when it is revealed bring about an unexpected change.

Make them enablers

Good secondary characters act as enablers to your protagonist. They are invaluable and the story simply wouldn’t work without them. It is, therefore, crucial that writers make these characters important, give them responsibilities and make it clear to the reader that the protagonist could not complete their journey or achieve their goals if that character was not around.

Kill them off!

Off course, one way to really make a secondary character really memorable is by killing them off! There is nothing quite as dramatic as an unexpected death after all.

If this wouldn’t work for your story then just by evoking some sense of sympathy for your secondary character still helps your reader engage with them. Tragic things can happen to secondary characters to bring them into the limelight, make readers sit up and take notice of them and evoke sympathy which will make them care for and feel closer to those characters too.

Make them noticeable

Whatever you do make sure your secondary characters are noticeable and unique. If they all sound and act the same, your reader is going to have trouble paying attention to them. Give them big, individual personalities, character traits and quirks to make them really stand out.

Your secondary characters play a huge role in your stories so make sure that you pay attention to them and dedicate as much time and effort to developing them and their role in your book as you do your main protagonist!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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