Friday, January 3, 2014

Create Supporting Characters that Shine!

Hi everyone!
Today I’m sharing a bit about supporting (or secondary) characters and the roles they can play in your story. No matter what genre you’re writing (horror, romance, sci-fi, or mystery), if developed the right way, secondary characters have the power to enhance the plot and make the hero and/or heroine shine.

Supporting characters help move a story along by giving out information, getting themselves or other characters into (or out of) sticky situations, showing up at the worst (or best) possible moment, or just by being a sounding board.
In my latest romance, Ultimate Night’s Delights, I made Lono and Lobo (two minor characters who were introduced in A Midwinter Night’s Delights) into important secondary characters and gave them a crucial role to play in the plot. Although they were in the background for most of the action, the scenes in their point of view gave them (and the reader) a different look at the events in the story and hinted at what was taking place in the background.
Another advantage to using supporting characters in a story is that you can have them misbehave, be socially inappropriate, and shake up the story in ways that your well-behaved main characters can’t. For example, in my book, Dalton’s Temptation, Prince Allan was introduced as a hedonistic, selfish, womanizing secondary character. He caused all sorts of trouble, and yet he served an important role in the story. (And later, he had a book of his own, The Pauper Prince.)

Everett, in A Perfect Match is a good example of a best friend/secondary character fully functioning on his own. He’s not hanging around in every scene, but he serves as a “sounding board” for Vin and Danni’s on-again off-again love affair. Through his interaction with the main characters, readers learned all about his history, watched him play matchmaker, and got to know him as his own person, not just a cardboard cut-out. And, I’m currently writing a book about him!

If you’re working on a story now, identify the supporting characters. How developed are they? They need to be as “real” as any other character, but on a smaller scale. Each one should have a backstory, a history with the main character(s), a detailed physical description, and a personality that stands out or contrasts the protagonists. Don’t just “drop” a character into a story and call him the “quirky” neighbor—flesh him out and let him come alive. Make sure the reader knows why that character is important to the story, even if he only has a small role or is there just to cause trouble.

Answer these questions for each of your secondary characters: What are their roles in the story? Are they different enough from the main characters? If you removed them from the story, would your story still make sense? Remember, if they’re not there for a reason, either give them one, or see if your story works just as well without them.    

Secondary characters are a great way to enhance your writing, explore different character types, and, if, done right, they can jump off the page and remain with readers long after they’ve finished your story!

I hope you enjoyed this look at creating secondary characters. I enjoy hearing from readers, feel free to drop me a line via this blog or contact me through the email address on my site:

Happy Reading,

About the Author:
Kelli A. Wilkins writes in several genres including romance, horror, and non-fiction. Her Amber Quill Press romances span multiple genres, including historical, fantasy, contemporary, gay, and paranormal. Her most recent romance, ULTIMATE NIGHT'S DELIGHTS, an erotic historical, was released in September 2013. Look for her latest historical, WILDERNESS BRIDE in March 2014, and her second Medallion Press romance, DANGEROUS INDENTURE, in May 2014.
Readers can learn more about Kelli’s romances on her site:

You can also catch up with Kelli here:
Amber Quill Press Author page 
Medallion Press Author Page

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