I’ve been slowly reading The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass. I’m a fast reader and sometimes miss important facts, so I’ve been taking my time with this one in order to make the most of the book and learn all I can to apply to my writing.
I just finished a chapter about secondary characters and was struck by the fact that I really ignore mine! I have been so focused on the H/H, I have stuck my secondaries into the background, safe and sound.
Here are three types of secondary characters to think about:
1. Special Characters: Who are the people that make an impact on your character’s life? How have they made a difference in your protaganist’s life? What makes these characters special is how they have changed your hero/heroine. What details show this to be true?
2. Ordinary Characters: These are the people in your protaganist’s life that are taken for granted. One way to spice them up is to make them eccentric, make them quirky. While making them unique, you need to make them human too, so give them a conflict they must overcome.
3. Antagonists: To often these can become “cardboard” characters who are entirely evil, which makes them entirely boring. These bad guys need some redeeming qualities. We need to somehow relate to them and even root for them at times. They need be in the forefront and in the hero’s face, not relegated to the background.
According to Maass, secondary characters are just as important to the story as the protagonist. We need to make sure our supporting characters are real, are human, are memorable.
I have to confess my secondaries are in the background. In fact, there aren’t many secondaries in my WIP and I’ll have some major revisions ahead to beef up these quiet characters in my story.
How about you? Do you enjoy writing quirky secondary characters? How much thought do you put into these? What is your favorite type of secondary character to write?