Sunday, January 13, 2008

Secondary Characters

By Marcia Mickelson

In the past, I've hated writing secondary characters. To me, they were not as important and just something necessary to do in order to get on with the story. In the novel I'm working on now, I've taken a different approach. I've really tried to give them character.

Secondary characters are very important and not only drive the story along, but also add color to the story. I have really enjoyed working on my secondary characters and have had a lot of fun with them. This is an opportunity to get creative with dialogue. I especially have enjoyed putting in tidbits of conversation I've heard from people that I know. These are somewhat outrageous tidbits that I would never have my main characters say, but coming from a secondary character, it really adds to the story.

Just think, how much secondary characters add to some of your favorite books? What would Pride and Prejudice be without Mr. Collins or Lady Catherine.

So, look at the people around you that you come in contact with to find color to add to your secondary characters. I have a neighbor down the street who I am dying to use in a novel one day. He's over 70 years old and retired. He keeps a very immaculate yard and it is not unusual to see him down the street, shirtless, mowing someone else's yard. I've seen him a few streets over before edging a yard. He really cares about how our neighborhood looks and spends a lot of time doing what others won't do to their yards. I came home once and found a huge bag of edges trimmed off our lawn sitting in our driveway. I have to admit, we don't do a lot of edging. We're lucky if we get the yard mowed. I didn't have to think twice about who it was that came by to do that.

Anyway, he's such a colorful character. He is definitely going in one of my books one day. Of course, not as a main character but he'd be great as a secondary character. So, look around and find those fun, zany characters in your life who you can use to color your story.
On another note,
We're still running our contest to win a book. Click here to see some of the guesses. There's one that's very close. If you can give it a guess, you might win!!


Don said...

It's possible to do so much more with the secondary characters than it is with the main ones.

They don't have to be likable. They can say and do things that the main character could never get away with. And you get to name each and every one of them.

What's not to love?

Tristi Pinkston said...

A shirtless seventy-year-old.