Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Keep Your Secondary Characters Second

When we talk about characters, we talk about essentially three types: the protagonist(s), the antagonist(s), and the secondary characters. This is simple, right? Now, let's look at that final group and consider what their name implies. They are secondary! They are not the primary characters.

One of the things that really gets annoying about a book is when the authors fail to hold those secondary characters back. Those darn characters are doing everything they can to take center stage. While those scenes might be fun, or those characters might be fighting for the right to have their own book, within the pages of the current work in progress, they do not have the right.

There are actually two problems when your secondary characters start taking over. First of all, they are sucking up both writing time and word count that should be better spent on your main characters. You might not think a lot of it right now, but those paragraphs you are giving to the supporting staff are paragraphs that would add depth to your characters. Think of it as a budget for a team. You only have so much to spend so giving it to someone who is not central to the team is going to hurt you at play-off time.

The second issue is that you are not distracting your reader from the central story arc you set out to create. If it is a romance then the relationship needs to take center stage. We want to watch the hero and heroine fall in love and not be interrupted. Think here of a great movie you want to watch on tv and how annoyed you get when the commercials keep showing up. Sure, the commercial might be funny or informative, but when it comes to the movie, you are annoyed by the interruptions.

You can like those secondary characters, but remember... you are the author. You have the control. You tell them what to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment