Those All-Important Secondary Characters

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Have you ever read a book and fallen in love with one or more of the secondary characters? I’m sure we all have.

Just recently someone broached the topic of a possible novella featuring one of the secondary characters in my Demons of Infernum series. I have to admit I hadn’t thought about featuring him in a follow-up to the series. He was created as a sidekick character, meant solely to revolve around my heroes. But now that the topic has been brought up, a whole world of possibilities has opened to me.

It’s no surprise that readers who like your stories will fall in love with the side characters and want to read more about them. It’s a way of keeping your world alive. Just think about the rabid fans of J.R. Ward or Jeaniene Frost (me!). With that in mind, there are some things I’ve resolved to do for every secondary character who might possibly be featured in a future story:

  • Find Character Likenesses

I’m a very visual person so this is a big one for me. I need to know what my character will look like before I can begin crafting his personality. In many ways it feels like the physical look of my character will affect the personality. In the past I haven’t always done it with side characters but I will now.

  • Prepare Character Sheets

My character sheets contains tons of information: from the physical looks to the personality of my character, as well as their background and childhood. It’s a great way to ‘build’ the personality, and will make the process so much easier if I ever decide to feature that character in their own story.

  • Find the Perfect Match

I write romance, so this is a no-brainer for me. If my character is unmatched I will think of who their perfect partner would be (i.e. someone who will drive them absolutely insane). I already unintentionally did this for the secondary character I noted above. He’s an incubus and in my mind I always figured he’d go great with a woman who couldn’t abide promiscuity. They’ll hit a lot of obstacles on the road to their HEA. Smile

For those of you who are writers, have you ever dreamt up a minor character with the intent of featuring them in a story at a later date? If so, did you do any special preparation for your secondary character?

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12 thoughts on “Those All-Important Secondary Characters

    Judi Judi Judi said:
    March 28, 2011 at 7:33 am

    This has happened to me in a couple of books. In Ghost of a Chance, I had to promise Aerial (the heroine’s mother) that she could have her own book because she was beginning to take over the whole story. She settled down after that. So, I’ve started writing her story.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

      He, I love how you said that, Judi. In book 1 of my Demons series one of the brothers (who wasn’t the featured hero) just wouldn’t shut up. Like you, I had to tell him I’d write his story next, LOL. 🙂

    kayspringsteen said:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I have the start of a full series, though the stories are stand-alone. Was originally going to be just one story (and that one is to be released April 5), but my crit partners said, “You HAVE to write the brother’s story.” Then every time I wrote in this series, the crit group would tell me I had added someone they wanted to read more about. There is even a group of people who are in love with the widowed patriarch so he is going to have to have a little bit of time of his own. It really can skyrocket!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

      I know, Kay, it’s amazing how a series can grow so organically. I love it!!

    Ciara Knight said:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I’ve wanted to write a sequel for a secondary character, but I’ve never written one with the intent of featuring him in his own story.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 8:35 am

      I didn’t intend a story for my incubus either, but since it’s been mentioned I’ve gotten really excited about it. I think it would make a perfect novella. 🙂

    Roni Lynne said:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I’ve had a few beta readers comment that they’d like to see a couple of my secondary characters get their own stories. Luckily, these are characters that I’ve done some preliminary background work on & I do have a pretty good feel for them at this point, so I can see possible novellas in the future!

    Great topic, Rosalie.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

      Thanks, Roni. So you’re one of those planners, hmm? (lol) It’s pretty exciting to have charactrs set up for their own stories.

    Eleyne Presley said:
    March 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I have written short stories for a few of my favorite secondary characters because I couldn’t bear to let them die without a hearing. One of them morphed into a vampire, and has another secondary role in a novel still on the drawingboard.

    I have created fairly comprehensive character dossiers for many of my ‘larger’ secondary characters because I feel they need to be three-dimensional, even if they aren’t primaries.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

      It makes good sense, Eleyne. Even if you never create a story for that character, fleshing them out makes your main story more satisfying overall.

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

    You are so organized! My secondary characters spring from the top of my head like Athena out of Zeus! I never know who or what they are until they announce themselves. I’m so impressed with your character sheets!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

      I don’t use them for all secondary characters, Julia. At least I didn’t. I think I’ll start now. 🙂

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