Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Crowded Pages

Last week I spoke about the heroes and villains that brings the stories alive, but they're not the only characters that populate the novel. It's not just enough to only think about the main players in stories. In fact, some of the most interesting characters emerge from the sidelines, sometimes these characters do unexpected and interesting things that wasn't even planned for.

What are some of the side characters that need to exist to make the story complete?

1. Mentor
A character that exists to pass on knowledge to the main character. They can be helping the antagonist or protagonist and helps push the story along. Usually without a mentor, the character will just be sitting around waiting for something to happen. 

  2. Comic
Who doesn't like a comic relief? They are the light-hearted character who doesn't really take themselves seriously. These characters exist to release some tension from the novel.

 3. Best Friend
All heroes need characters that will support them and encourage them to succeed in their missions, especially when the hero feels like everything is falling apart around them. A lot of the time the best friend(s) gets into trouble along the way and this gives the hero an opportunity to step up and overcome the obstacle.  

4. Guardian
Sometimes a parental figure, or a character who's main purpose in the story is to go out of their way to protect the hero.

5. Nemesis
A nemesis can be a main antagonist, but sometimes if the actual villain is someone/something else the nemesis exists to stand in the road and block the hero from succeeding in their quest.


6. The Messenger
When the hero comes across an obstacle and they don't know which way to go this is when the messenger comes into the story. They have some vital information that the hero requires in order to proceed with the quest.


7. Trickster
These characters can be one of the most interesting to develop. They exist purely to deceive the main character. Sometimes they can be a friend or helper of the hero who is actually working for the villain, or they can give out misleading information that sends the hero in another direction.

  So, what sorts of characters do you love writing into the sidelines of your novel? Which ones do you like reading?

Just a reminder that it's not too late to sign up for my "Tales from the Sideline" blogfest which is taking place on Thursday. Let those minor characters shine.


Janet Johnson said...

Fun post! There are a lot of fun side characters. Some of mine are even poking their way into their own future books.

The nemesis is always a fun one for me.

Keri said...

I've been reading all your posts on this so far and they're great!

I love reading up on character archetypes, especially ones that are presented in the most unusual way. Maybe the mentor who is not the wise old man but the younger brother or the house cat from next door who demonstrates the persistence/boldness that the protagonist needs to learn from.

I do love the trickster.♥

Theresa Milstein said...

Good point about these supporting characters. And sometimes two for one, like in Hush Hush, the best friend provides comic relief.

A good nemesis: Malfoy.

Stephanie McGee said...

I like the comic relief, but really only if that character also has a good sense of when humor may or may not be appropriate.

Kerri Cuev said...

The comic and nemesis are fun for me to write!

Jemi Fraser said...

I like the mentors and the sidekicks - whether they're comic relief or support :)

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

I love this series of posts!

I seem to have written in a Guardian without thinking about it. I'm very fond of the Trickster, though.

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