Supporting Characters In Novels Need Love Too

When it comes to writing novels everyone always talks about two major characters: the main character and the bad guy. However, there are so many other characters to consider when writing a novel.

There are side characters, major or minor characters, secondary characters, however, you want to explain it.

If you think about it, your protagonist wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for the help of their supporting characters.

Give your supporting characters some love | Supporting characters | Character Development |

What is a supporting character?

It’s a character in a novel who supports the main character through the plot. They’re not the main focus of the story, but they aid the story in various ways. This can be shown through major or minor characters or secondary characters. Or, maybe a passerby kind of character.

3 examples of supporting characters

The Best Friend

Your main character’s friend may have nothing to do with the plot, but they may get roped into a few things here and there. They’re the perfect opportunity to add a little friction as well. Everyone argues with their best friend and it’ll add one more annoying thing to your main character’s list.

The Mentor

The mentor or teacher is the character who, of course, guides or advises the main character. It may or may not have anything to do with the plot, but most often than not, the main character finds a way to use their teachings to push the plot forward.

The Love Interest

Everyone has a little love in their life and that includes your main character. Sometimes this goes with the plot and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes it even distracts the main character from the plot. Either way, it keeps things interesting.

How to spread the love to your supporting characters | Character development |

Treat your supporting cast like any other character.

Supporting characters are just like any other character. The plot just isn’t about them. That’s okay though, they’re still characters who are important to the story.

With that said, be sure to:

  • Give them a backstory – This doesn’t have to be too in-depth depending on how often they’ll appear in the story, but it helps.
  • Give them good traits – They must be helping the main character for some reason, right?
  • Give them bad traits – Everyone makes mistakes. Or, maybe they’re helping for the wrong reasons.

Supporting characters are characters too and they need a lot of attention as well.

What are some of your favorite types of supporting characters? How else do you develop them? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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32 thoughts on “Supporting Characters In Novels Need Love Too

  1. I’ve always liked the best friend, but second tier villains are always fun. I don’t know why, but bad guys that aren’t the main one come off with more interesting personalities. Maybe it’s because one wonders more about them being ‘evil’ and following someone. That and authors tend to make named henchmen some really oddball characters.

  2. Be interesting to see you do a short list of good examples from books you like, like the guy above mentioned the supporting characters in Harry Potter. Another great example is Hannibal Lecter, who appears maybe in about 40 or so pages of the Silence of the Lambs (and about 15 mins total screen time in the movie) yet is a totally realised and complete character.

  3. Rachel, I absolutely adore this post! Supporting characters are so very important & often overlooked — I find that sometimes, when I don’t particularly like the main character(s) in a particular book, the supporting characters can actually make or break it for me. There’s so much opportunity, I find, to make supporting characters beautiful & vibrant & colourful, with their own backstories that can enrich the plot. Such a wonderful reminder to show our supporting characters a little more love. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! ❤

    Topaz (Six Impossible Things)

    • Thanks! It’s true that the supporting characters can actually make or break the story all things considered. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Sometimes it can be interesting if someone ends up with two protagonists as opposed to one as I have done on occasions. This can also increase the chances of enhancing the supporting characters and making them more interesting. Giving a supporting character a story as well can also add dimension to the story itsel and therefore create more elements to it.

    Anything thoughts on this would be welcomed

    • Exactly. I have two protagonists in my mystery series and the majority of the supporting characters all have their own backstories that will be revealed overtime.

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