View Full Version : Secondary Characters & 15 Seconds of Fame

March 7th, 2011, 07:39 AM
Unless your hero and heroine are stranded on a desert island for the duration of your book, they live in a village, a city, a ranch or a television production set and they are surrounded by other characters in your novel.

In Lights, Camera. Murder, I have my heroine, my hero and they are supported by sidekicks. For Sage, my heroine, its Double K-who appears in and out of scenes as needed to move the plot forward or add continuity to Sage’s world. He also does a lot of behind the “scenes” work, while my heroine is off uncovering clues or falling in love with the hero.

There is also the Director, her assistant, Sage's assistant, and others. While the hero and heroine are in most of the scenes; all these characters in Lights, Camera. Murder! All play important roles in the novel.

Your secondary characters will do the same, they will help move the plot forward, support your hero and heroine and give your novel the authenticity it requires to advance the storyline forward.

While I don’t put as much emphasis in character development of my secondary characters as I do my hero and heroine. They are never the less developed in my plot book and deserve their 15 minutes of fame.

If a character has a recurring appearance in your novel, take time to define and develop their characters.

In addition to your secondary characters, there are other "people" who have jobs to do and appearances to make in your novel. Like a casting director, I've assigned them roles and they make their appearance as Bit Parts, Walk-ons and Extras.

Bit Parts, Walk-ons and Extras

The bit parts are reserved to small speaking roles. In Lights, Camera. Murder! an example of this type character would be a waitress, a television news reporter and a stuntman.

Each of the before mentioned extras appear only once and are not heard of or seen again.

These characters add to the color and flavor to the novel, their roles is to help move the plot forward and solidify the reality of my fictional world.

For bit parts, I usually borrow from typical stereotypes. This is the only time I recommend using stereotypes. You don’t want their nonessential essential roles to take away from actual plot so its easier to use a sterotype that the reader will easily grasp and move over quickly. You don't want them taking away from the story but rather lightly adding to it.

Other characters that populate my novels are what I refer to as walk-ons with no speaking role what so ever. They are the construction workers who ogle my heroine; giving my hero a chance to be protective and a little jealous. They can also be the crowd of reporters who fill up space at a press conference and townfolk who populate my fictional town.

Your extras may be part of the scenery but give a bit of thought as to what is going on around your hero and heroine.

The Setting as a Character

In the right circumstances you can also treat the setting as a character in your novel.

In Wuthering Heights, for instance, the readers get the sense of isolation of the moors. The dreariness of the landscape molded to and became more than just a backdrop for Cathy and Heathcliff.

One of my favorite scenes is Lights, Camera. Murder, is only a paragraph long but it help set the stage, solidifies the setting and in this case moves the story along. This paragraph also includes a “family” of extra players.

My characters Jon and Sage are diving from town to the production set. It’s about a fifteen minute ride, and I could have filled it with conversation or had them teleport from town to the location instead I took a moment and added to the setting.

Given this scenario what would you see on a small secondary road along Florida’s coast. I let my hero, Jon, pass a station wagon filled with a family of tourists. The dad is weather worn from driving, the mother is trying to make heads or tails of the map she is holding, one teen is sleeping, and the other is listening to a headset.

As Jon and Sage continue to drive, Sage glances out the window to see some cattle grazing in a field with egrets following the cattle. A billboard in the field offers free breakfast with a night’s stay.

In Lights, Camera. Murder! This small scene was only one paragraph and as a short one at that but it gave the reader the flavor of what it would be like to ride down a rural portion of Highway 19 in Florida. This small bit of description makes the book real.

And for heaven’s sake - don’t forget the weather as a backdrop, “character” to your book or just part of the setting.

Weather can contribute to characters feelings and emotions. Weather can create urgency.

A light breeze may be distracting to your hero if it delightfully tosses a stray curl on your heroine’s head. Weather elements include sun, rain, wind, a light breeze scorching heat or treacherous hurricanes.

In the movie Twister, a tornado was central to the plot.

Last but not least, your character should have the right name. In the next lesson I will be discussing character names.

The Plot Book

Secondary Characters
Name: __________________________________________________ __________
Nickname: __________________________________________________ _______
Age_______________________________________________ ___________________
Body Type______________________________________________ _______________
Height/Weight/ Body Type______________________________________________ __
Hair Color/ Eye Color_____________________________________________ _______
Background________________________________________ ___________________
Current Occupation: __________________________________________________ _
Goal/Dreams This Year______________________________________________ ___
Long term Goals_____________________________________________ __________
Biggest Secret____________________________________________ _____________
Education_________________________________________ ___________________
Hates/Likes_____________________________________________ ______________
Subplot: __________________________________________________ ____________
What does he or she want: ________________________________________________

Depending on your secondary character’s involvement with the hero/heroine, their character profile can be as developed as their involvement in the Plot.

In my book, Lights, Camera. Murder! My character Double K who played a central role was fully developed. In my Plot Book, secondary characters are downsized to height, weight, eye color, hair and any habits they had that might be central to the plot.

My Bit Part Characters for example a clerk or waitress who had a speaking role and appears only once or any walk-ons parts do not have a character page. For your book it totally depends on their importance.

Whatever their role or function, secondary characters do deserve their 15 seconds of fame as their function is to help advance the plot or give the reader insight about your characters and/or the relationship between the hero and heroine.

Tomorrow, we'll finish up characterization with Character names, then the rest of the week go into the actual plot of the mystery-romantic suspense novel.

Thanks everyone! See you online at Coffeetime! Linn

For More Information on Linn Random or Lights, Camera. Murder!
You are invited to visit www.LinnRandom.com
Books on sale exclusively at Coffeetime Romance.

March 7th, 2011, 04:50 PM
This is what I need to do for the books I'm trying to write at the moment. Not that I already haven't, but I just need to revise it a bit more.

March 7th, 2011, 07:54 PM
As a mission commander said to Luke Skywalker.........Stay on target, stay on target, I know you will be successful, and am in your front row cheering! Linn

March 7th, 2011, 08:05 PM
OMG Star Wars. Have you heard they're going to make those movies into 3-D starting with The Phantom Menace or so my husband told me yesterday.

March 7th, 2011, 08:19 PM
Wow, really 3-D, no I hadn't heard. I'm a big fan of the first three Star Wars... Great news thanks for sharing.

By the way if I am missing anyone's posts, please let me know!

Thanks everyone! Thank you Charmed!!!!!!!! Linn

March 7th, 2011, 08:24 PM
Did you see my next post to the opening scene and line thread? I posted some more.

March 7th, 2011, 08:36 PM
Charmed, I will look forward to reading your posts shortly! Really looking forward to it and will come back later! Fantastic!!!! Linn