The Best Part Of Telling A Story – Part VI

April 14, 2022 I published the first part of this blog post series, on April 28, the second part followedThe third part was published May 26, 2022, part #4 was published July 11, 2022 and Part 5 you can read on here since July 25, 2022. This blog post series talks about the best part of telling a story. There are so many good parts, to me, each holds its own appeal. Let’s have a look at them again:

1. Drafting the plot

2. Finding a motive

3. Creating the protagonist and antagonist

4. Finding the perfect location

5. Thinking of plot twists

6. Create side characters

[7. Depending on the story, maybe even create a world]


Today we are talking about ‘creating side characters.’ That is a particularly difficult subject since I heard several opinions about them. Some readers told me: “I don’t like when a writer wastes so much time and energy on side characters instead of concentrating on the story. I don’t need to know that the waitress had an ‘ample bosom’, strawberry blond hair, and a seductive smile. I hear about her once in that entire book. Let her serve the wine and then disappear again. I want to know how the protagonist looks, feels, talks, plans… and acts.”

Others told me: “The story would have been far more vivid if the author had taken the time to describe the waitress. How was her smile, her eyes, her body? Was she attractive, and what impression did she make on the protagonist? Were there any thoughts about her? And so on… what’s wrong with describing a bit more?”

Of course, every writer is different, but generally, side characters are carrying the story in the book! They’re as important as the main character. They are the ones that challenge the protagonist to do what is necessary. They are the ones that make the main character interesting and steer him/her in a particular direction, be it thrilling, adventurous, rescuing, or defending… just to name a few examples.

Side characters (supporting characters), written right, can vitalize the story, and give it depth, or thrill. It is important to give our supporting characters their own voice and make them impressive individuals that have an impact on the protagonist and the story. Remarkable side characters can have different goals than the protagonist and add unexpected twists to our book.

To let them just walk in and out of a story seems to be disrespectful, comparable to Bond girls. They just show up, called Dee-Dee or BB, nice, cute, weak, need to be rescued – and disappear after they served their purpose.

We want more from our side characters. We want individuals with a strong will and a significant impact on the story. Vivid ‘minor’ characters are essential to our writing. Side characters are not supposed to be neglected. They not only should get some of our attendance, but they also need it, because they are a significant part of our story. Give them all the respect they deserve and honor their work by giving them strength!

Good writing!

7 thoughts on “The Best Part Of Telling A Story – Part VI

  1. A subtle, brief, description of a person or ‘thing’ can provide a chuckle or a frown, as needs be and we must remember that ‘life’ itself is filled with all sorts of serendipities and quirks which are memorable and can colour the mundane.

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  2. I agree, side characters make the story. Without them, the story would be flat. Imagine Robin Hood without Little John. or King Arthur without Sir Lancelot or the myriad of side characters in the Harry Potter books. Years ago, when I gave my first book to a young person to read, she said she enjoyed the story and liked the character Leah the best. She is a friend Amanda makes on her first adventure. I realized at that point the importance of side characters. Leah has since appeared in all but one of the books.

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    1. Thank you very much for your insight on this. It’s very valuable. Thank you. I think, in my series the Council of Twelve is the ‘most important group of side characters’ I ever wrote about. 🙂

      Like

  3. Yes, side characters, or sidekicks as I call them, are very important to the story. I usually pick a best friend for the leading character, but it might be a relative at times. They are the supporting characters to the story, just like in a movie or TV series. Of course, the reader needs to know a little about them. It’s a fine line between too much information or not enough. If the writer gives enough for the reader to get a hold of what the character basically looks like, they can fill in the rest and be a part of the writing.

    I love to give my side characters little quirks so the reader can have fun reading about them. In my latest novel, my heroine’s best friend is a born and raised Texan gal and speaks like you would imagine a girl raised on a horse ranch would. She’s outspoken, loves her friend, stands for what she believes is right, and is funny but also endearing (so my critiquers say). She doesn’t outshine my heroine, but is support for her when needed.

    What would a movie be like without it’s side characters? Same thing with a book.

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