TGIF! At least this year. In the future when you read this post on the 12th of February, it may not be a Friday.
So let’s pour a drink for future us who will most likely be in the middle of the work week.
In the meantime! We shall venture ever forward.
Today’s prompt is about putting everything we have worked on this month together.
So, a quick recap is in order, then, yes?
If you have been following along, we started with a basic narrative arc. Then we made it better! Like adding chocolate.
We added even more with the pre-inciting arc and the denouement spike. Then we moved to the characters. We gave them real backstories and a growth arc of their own.
We focused on making the minor characters important to us as a writer and to our readers. And we made the character arcs even more fun and less linear.
Now, we are going to put everything together and take a look at what’s missing.
By now, your diagram should look something like this:
So what’s missing?
Can you tell?
Have a guess?
Times up! The answer we are looking for is the secondary characters!
Yes, we covered the protagonist and antagonist, the story itself and those minor characters like background props.
But, we need a supporting cast!
We will spend the last work day of the week (fancy way to say Friday, huh?) adding in our supporting cast. And give them an Emmy!
Add a secondary character to your arc, complete with backstory.
Ahh, the ever present side kick. No story is complete without them.
Unless I decide to write an autobiography, but that’s another story.
Secondary characters are just as important as the main characters. These little guys are the catalyst that helps our hero reach the heights, and picks them up when they fall.
In fact, I want you to do something that is completely against everything you have ever learned about character creation.
You need to unlearn in order to move forward. There is a quote about that somewhere, but I can’t find it right now. Moving on!
When you stop seeing your supporting characters as secondary, they will begin to come to life on their own.
Think about the Lord of the Rings. Frodo is the protagonist, Sauron is the antagonist.
Technically, that makes all the other characters secondary. Gandalf and Legolas and Aragorn are all secondary characters.
How do you feel about Samwise? Gollum? Do you think they are secondary?
Of course not. They are just as primary as Frodo. The entire cast is. And that is why the story is so great. Same with Harry Potter.
These are stories that will stand the test of time, over and over, because the characters are what we resonate with.
No one alive can relate to having to take an all-powerful ring to a fiery mountain. Nor can we compare our high school to Hogwarts.
But we can see ourselves helping a friend in their most dire time of need. Or calling on our loved ones to fight off some evil being, like cancer or, offering support and holding hands through the tough bits.
The point is, we need our secondary characters to be just as prominent and important as our main characters. And there is only one way to do that.
Treat them like main characters.
I know. It goes against everything you have ever been taught. But you need to unlearn that shit.
Your supporting cast have lives, too. Their world is turned upside down when the MC needs to get to a hill top or fight a dragon. They also come from somewhere, are headed somewhere and have dreams, goals and aspirations.
If you think you are going to write a great story without making your secondary characters just as real as your main ones, I got bad news for you.
So take some time today, and play around with a secondary character for this story we’ve been building this month.
Even if it isn’t your main WiP. Create a secondary character that is just as real to you as the MC. Go through the entire process with this character and see how much life you can breathe into them.
When you are finished, post your results in the comments and let’s see how real others find your supporting cast.