You’ve poured your whole heart and soul into the protagonist and maybe even the antagonist, however what about the rest of your supporting characters?

Creating secondary characters that room whole and not just caricatures is much easier said than done—until now. In this post, we’re walking to comment on ways to produce stronger an additional characters that construct your protagonist and include dimension come your developed world. Let’s gain started.

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What is a second Character?

The second character is an ext than just a young character. That or she is essential to the story because this personality reveals crucial details, encourages the protagonist, foils the protagonist, or helps specify the story’s setting.

The secondary character virtually always interacts through the protagonist on some level, it is in it with dialogue or a memory the the protagonist has of this an additional character.

The secondary character is responsible for progressing the story in part way. As we questioned above, he may reveal certain details around the protagonist or the human being they live in. He may inspire the protagonist to do something heroic or stupid. He might stand in opposition to the protagonist (while no necessarily gift a poor guy), staying clear of the protagonist from completing a task.

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Give lock a Backstory


If you’ve review this blog because that a while, you know I’m a huge fan of the bible—the personality bible. Produce a history, a list of personality traits, a description, and also a story arc for each and every personality you create.

Now, I recognize this sounds a small like overkill, but your readers will say thanks to you. By developing a backstory because that each personality in the beginning, you’ll create a much much more believable character who has dimension. He’s no just great or poor (more about that below), but a mixture of the two—and that’s what’ll do him relatable.

You may keep 98% that what you know to yourself, yet just discovering what encourages a character and also what that would never ever do, you’re guaranteed to write a far better character.

Remember: girlfriend don’t have to share whatever you know around the character. In fact, please don’t. Many of what you create in her backstory in only for you come know.

Don’t Get captured Up in the Minutiae

If you a “small details” person, you may get so consumed v writing these second characters that you overlook the bigger picture.

There must be a balance between small details and bigger picture. The second characters are regularly used as tools to build your protagonist’s storyline (more around this below). If you acquire sidetracked and add a the majority of extraneous details around these characters, it have the right to muddy points up. The reader will gain confused. Her story will be difficult to navigate.

Always store the broader view in mind and also ask you yourself if this an additional character adds come the “moral of her story” or distracts from it.

Don’t do Them All an excellent or all Bad

No one, not even your real life arch nemesis, is all angry all the time. In fact, they more than likely think they’re good people.

Your second characters worthy the same type of dimension. As soon as you make them totally good or fully evil, lock go totally flat.

Create a perform of 3 virtues because that every second character in her book. It doesn’t need to be an extensive or overly detailed. Store it simple, due to the fact that we are managing a an additional character here.

Next, develop a perform of negatives. Walk shallow—describe their physical appearance or hygiene. Walk deep—discuss their hopes and fears.

Keep in mind, depending upon the point of watch you’ve employed, you may be restricted to the shallow in her narration (a first person narrator can’t know the secondary character’s inside thoughts uneven it’s revealed come him).

It’s so much an ext interesting come read characters who exist in the gray.

Don’t produce Too numerous Characters


Because secondary characters space fun to write, it’s straightforward to get lugged away. You may discover yourself writing way more personalities than the story needs.

While you have a pretty an excellent handle on who each character is in your own mind, think about your dear reader. Lock don’t recognize these characters like you do, and following a big cast of an additional characters deserve to be confusing.

If you’ve ever read a book and then found yourself flipping ago a couple of pages to refresh your memory around a particular character, you already understand this frustration.

Don’t carry out that to her audience. Whittle under your perform of second characters so the each one is totally unique and also different from any kind of other personality in the story. Every character’s personality must be plainly defined.

As a sidenote, offer each an additional character a unique name, too. No Maria and also Mariah or Jimmy and also Johnny. Help your reader stay in the “now” of her story by providing each character who requirements a surname one the can’t be confused for who else. There are all species of fabulous name generators to assist you out. My favorite is Behind the Name, wherein you can select names from every sorts of categories, including nationality, mythology, and also fantasy.


Image Courtesy of Behind the Name

Combine characters who offer a similar role into one person. You may not be able to do the in real life, yet you certainly can in your developed own world. Combining personalities may feel favor a loss, but on the flip side, you’re in reality strengthening the remaining secondary characters by adding an ext dimension to their existence.

Use secondary Characters to construct the Protagonist

All the your second characters offer one purpose: to build the protagonist. Lock aren’t simply background noise. Each an additional character need to either assistance or placed up resistance against the protagonist.

This character likewise saves girlfriend from dreaded exposition. You have the right to use the secondary character come “show” crucial events in the story without going right into “narrator mode” where you explain why other is happening.

Use castle to illustrate the civilization You’ve Created


You’ve built a world, maybe also a dystopian one choose we walk here. An additional characters help collection the ton of the people you’ve built. They do it believable. They include dimension to her exposition.

Each personality you write gives you through an possibility to make some statement about the people you’ve created. That’s because they each have a distinctive perspective on the world.

We recently wrote a post on perspective that’s a must-read for creating second characters. Examine it out here.

Tie Them come One Location

In an effort to make it easier for your leader to remember who is who, connect your an additional character come one ar whenever possible. This personality only appears at a details location (the short article office, the pawn shop, the pancake house) and also doesn’t pop up exterior of it.

While your second characters may live external of that one ar (hopefully), is it really essential to your story to display this? rather of having the character randomly visit your protagonist, why not have your protagonist travel to the one spot that you’ve designated because that this character to live?

Perhaps the protagonist constantly bumps into this an additional character at the write-up office. Your leader will learn to combine this character v the write-up office. However, if you place the an additional character at a waterpark (for no vital reason), it deserve to throw the reader off and have them scrambling come remember who the personality is.

While things favor that occur in actual life, the not important in the allegorical people of a novel. Your project is to tell a chop story and also not confused the reader.

If yes no reason for the secondary character come be in ~ a second location, don’t move them.

Give lock a reason to be in Every Scene

I’ll recognize that periodically a an additional character will accompany the protagonist to assorted locations. In this scenario, it’s so vital to carry out the following:

Deeply understand who each character is. Follow the character bible to recognize what they want from every scene.

Reduce redundancy. Like I stated before, if girlfriend can integrate two characters, perform it. Upgrade your character bible accordingly. Each character should have actually a distinct perspective.

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Give lock a factor for being there. No one should simply be follow me for the ride. Lock should constantly be in the scene because that a purpose.