1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Secondary characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mckk, Jan 5, 2011.

    I need help - how do you generate secondary characters? I currently have zero secondary characters and my story is becoming boring!! :(
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mine just pop up a hazard of writing in first person present tense. My character needs someone to talk to so I create someone to do the job always end up reducing my castlist - my current book had over 90 at end of first draft lol needed to cut that back something chronic.

    Think what you need to accomplish with your story and who can help you do that job.
     
  3. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, your MC can't do everything in the story.

    He/she must have friends/colleages/etc. If they stick around for more than one scene, then they generally become secondary characters there to support the MC.
     
  4. Show
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    Who are these people your MC knows? The MC must have some people in his/her orbit.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I barely have any sub-plots - it's too focused on the main plot and constantly follows the MC far too much.

    Erm, he has 2 companions, one of whom is the MC. At some point, his brother will join them too. But I don't know what they could do...?

    And ok, if these are secondary characters (sorry, not so familiar with terminology), then I also need tertiary characters - I guess I meant I have zero tertiary characters. (eg. people who appear for only one or two scenes)
     
  6. TricksterDizzy
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    TricksterDizzy Member

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    Well, it depends on your story. What are they doing? Where are they going? You might have to adjust the plot so they run into more people, say, they go to a bar or something and some dudes cause trouble.

    Can't really offer more until I know the plot, as different background characters are needed for different settings.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK for example my MC in my first book - in the first chapter he rows with his father, second chapter discusses his future and shares a beer with his brother and there is an arguement with his sister, third chapter he receives a note and package from the palace housekeeper and meets the mysterious Abbot, fourth chapter his Uncle arrives with bad news and he is poisoned rescued by his father's valet, and his father's valet brother. Fifth chapter his girlfriend appears, he goes back to her house (she lives with his Uncle Tom) where he also meets up with his cousin and again with the Abbot. sixth there is an emotional scene with his brother again, seventh he is taken to the monastery where he meets the man who will become his valet, as well as the fighting wing of the monks the Divine Warriors. This introduces him to two men who will later be in charge of part of the armed forces. I won't bore you with the rest lol But by this point he has met over a hundred other people some he interacted with and became characters some are nameless and faceless.

    Each story is different I did contemplate telling my second book with just my two brothers but got sidetracked lol, they met a ton of other characters in the end i left one brother at home. You have to focus on where you characters want to go and how they need to get there.
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I'll need to know specifically what genre you're writing before I can give a decent answer.

    Different genres provide lulls in the grand narrative through different devices. For instance, classic adventure stories will have some sort of obstruction to the "main quest" pop up for whatever reason, forcing the plot into a side passage. Love stories will have another potential love interest arrive, creating emotional tension (I'm sure we're all sick to death of Twilight references by now). Mystery novels have plot twists - big surprise [/irony].

    If you can give more info, I can give more too.
     
  9. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    They go to a restaurant - there's a waiter. A bar has a bouncer. A bank has a teller. A store has a clerk. Etc.

    The interaction can be as simple as:
    If you want to pad it some, have MC know her a bit. They have a polite, short conversation. He leaves.

    -Frank
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm writing a fantasy novel :) Essentially, the plot will come together in 3 directions.

    In summary, someone comes and tries to take my MC's life. He runs for it. Bumps into my secondary characters and 2nd MC. My 2nd MC has plans of her own and needs to buy his trust and lure him into going somewhere with her. Meanwhile, some spiritual war is happening and my villain is following my MC in secret, with a mind to turn him to the dark side and use him to win his spiritual war against t he underworld.

    All this time, my MC has no idea why anyone wants to kill him, has no memory of the past, and is oblivious to my 2nd MC's plans, as well as to the fact that he's being followed. (2nd MC doesn't know about the villain either)

    And society is becoming more and more frightened as rumours that the spirits will rise from the underworld again (like it happened centuries ago) spread. The assassins following my MC is actually the ones trying to stop the villain.

    I'm afraid that's really all the plot I have so far :( I don't feel it's enough.
     
  11. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I don't usually have the supporting characters at that point. They usually come as I write. I may, for instance, want a character to have to return for his/her car in the morning. Therefore they have to take a cab home (and tell the cabbie where they live/give him money) or get a ride from a friend (and have some small talk with the friend).

    I've had characters created during a conversation. X tells Y about classmates/family/co-workers. The conversation was just intended to build X's character or slow the pacing, but one of the people mentioned by X tickles my imagination.

    You seem to have a handful of plot points you want to hit on. Try writing those out. You'll be surprised as to what you might find.

    You mentioned that "society is becoming more and more frightened". As a writing exercise, try writing out some of those scenes. Even just a short vignette of a few hundred words. It might create characters and settings for you. I'm certain it would help you better immerse yourself in the world you are creating.

    -Frank
     
  12. Angharad Denby-Ashe
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    Angharad Denby-Ashe Member

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    Characters of this sort can be overdone. Remember you don't need a full life bio for a character that only has a few lines in the whole book. This can be both distracting and irritating to the reader. One trick I use, which I hope my own readers wont be conscience of and recognize as cheesy, is to have the characters spring from the tone of the particular scene that they are in. Such as an old man, who speaks slowly, has a weathered and long face with small beady eyes. He could be a character from a scene with a doctor about to give bad news. :)
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    FrankABlissett, that sounds like quite a good idea actually. I think I'll do that, thanks! (as in, writing the scene where the rumours and gossips start) I've already got one scene where a maid in an inn is murdered and the people are like, "So it's true. Shadow Rider's back." Lol.

    Angharad Denby-Ashe, hehe I suppose for tertiary characters, that could be quite nice. For me, that could be spun off as humour too, actually. That's another thing I lack - humour! I feel my story is too serious.
     
  14. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Well you have to start somewhere, and you are well on your way. You can easily expand on that.

    How about taking a time out, and delve deeper into those 3 directions.

    Someone comes and tries to take the MC's life. Who is it? Why do they want to take his life? This is a secondary (bad guy) character.

    The spiritual war, theres perhaps soldiers/commanders in this war? I guess it depends on how you write it, but perhaps some of these spirits could help with a sub plot?

    Society is more frightened about rumours, you can expand on this. Show a subplot of a noble farmer, or something, how it effect him and have him help the hero at some point or another.
     
  15. mcgeek
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    mcgeek New Member

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    Read or atleast skim The Stand, There are SO many Secondary characters that are fully fleshed out:)
     

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