Writing Supporting Characters

Often people put a lot of effort into creating their MCs, which sometimes means the supporting characters – I really don’t like the term minor characters as much because at the end of my story all of the characters are important to me – get put on the sideline. Supporting characters are important too. 

A lot of how you learn about your MCs personality is by seeing how they act when they’re forced with other contrasting or complementing personalities. The people who surround your MC matter a great deal to the outcome of the story. Like I said earlier, your supporting characters need to be people too. Try to make every character in your book complete. Sometimes your supporting character can have a different agenda than the MC, or different views on how they should react to the situations thrown at them. This can affect your plot. Maybe your supporting character is facing different stakes than your MC. How does it affect them when their goals/stakes cross paths or don’t work together?

Your supporting characters define your MC. How does your MC treat the supporting characters? The supporting characters are everyone. The co-worker. The best friend. The relative. The neighbor. They might not be in the story for very long, but they should still make a difference. Some of these characters don’t need more than two sentences explaining who they are and what they’re doing. Some of the times, you never even know these characters names. 

Think about more important supporting characters, though. Your MC needs a best friend to help them through their trials. They need someone who will lift them up, but supporting characters sometimes won’t agree with the MC. Whether they’re there for the MC or suddenly out of the picture, this affects the MC’s state of mind and how the plot proceeds. Supporting characters matter. 

Think about real life. Even if you’re the MC, every single person you meet is the MC of their own life. They all have character development, stories, goals, secrets, etc. Every supporting character in your story thinks they’re the MC. 

What are some of your favourite supporting characters in literature? 



One thought on “Writing Supporting Characters

  1. I agree, So much time is put into that main character, but he or she is nothing without the relationship from the supporting characters in their lives. I argue that the supporting cast is almost more important than the main character. We respond to stimuli from others. My favorite supporting character is the Sundance Kid, in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I know its a film, but still a great dynamic between Newman and Redford.


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