I just love secondary characters! You can do so much with secondaries that you just can’t do with your main characters.
- Give them a funny accent
- Give them a silly quirk
- Make them really annoying and adorable
- Give them traits that are too over-the-top for your main characters – pushy, loud, arrogant, talkative, etc.
- Give them unique gestures that might be too annoying for a main character, but really add lovability for a secondary character.
I’ll stop my list there. I’m sure there are more options for secondaries, but my words of advice are to simply have fun with them. Don’t be afraid to make them a little out-there – strange, crazy, flamboyant, sanguine, or so shy they can hardly speak.
Secondary characters make a great foil to prod your main characters into doing what you want them to do. Cause the death of your hero’s favorite secondary character and watch what will happen with your story!
They are also great for comic relief in a tense situation – think of Merry and Pippen in The Lord of the Rings.
Secondary characters can be used to lengthen out tension. Leave your main characters in a cliff-hanger situation and switch to a scene or two involving your secondary characters.
However you use them, just make sure your story has them. Readers need the release that comes with secondary characters.
What are some of your favorite secondary characters? If you are a writer what are some of your favorite ways to write secondaries?
Lynnette writes from the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband and four children. She loves to hear from readers and writers alike. Her first novel, Rocky Mountain Oasis, debuted summer 2009. She had been a member of NCWA since May of 2008.