Thursday, December 1, 2011

Building Secondary Characters

Valerie had a great post yesterday about people and their many layers. It got me thinking (see how awesome it is to have great crit partners?) about my secondary characters. Do they really have all those layers? In my head, sure, but am I showing that on paper? **See Kristi's post on Being a Visual Writer** 

My protagonist and her love interest, even her parents have all these layers. They see themselves one way, but are perceived differently by others, they have different mannerism, great motivation for their actions, even though the reader doesn't fully see it right away. But what about the best friend? The boy who wants the girl, but surely won't get her? Why does the cop do what he does? I mean, what's in it for him?

Every character is important. If they aren't, they probably shouldn't be in your story. Even if your reader never reads about why this minor character finally decided to come forward and admit that he's a cyborg, they need to feel that motivation. See it in his actions, even if your protag doesn't. Truck loads of backstory don't belong in your manuscript, but you should know every detail. Some authors even suggest that you sit down and interview every character. Ask them questions both big and small and see what they say. It'll give you a better understanding of who they are, why they do what they do, and that will reflect in your writing. If you don't know these people, they'll feel like paper to your readers. But you already knew that because you're awesome. ;)

Now. Back to adding those layers.

On a side note, I want to wish my agency sister Miranda Kenneally a very happy book birthday! Her debut novel CATCHING JORDAN hits shelves today! *confetti*

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