1. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    105
    Location:
    Texas

    Main Character Overshadowed by a Supporting Role?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Walking Dog, May 20, 2017.

    Has anyone had a character with a minor role overshadow a main character? This has happened to me on occasion. When a reader's first comment is about a supporting role, I'm both excited and disappointed - excited because I created an interesting character the reader likes, disappointed because the main character didn't quite meet my expectation. Here are two guys who stole the show:

    1. Rat Man - a scruffy man nicknamed by kids for making a living rummaging through neighborhood trash cans on trash day.

    2. Bad Weather Jack - a foul-mouthed fisherman with tobacco-stained fingers and a smoker's hack.

    So what should we do, improve the charisma of the main character, or change the plot of the story to center around the minor role?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    12,389
    Likes Received:
    20,043
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Not uncommon at all. Secondary characters have less work to do while the MC has to carry the whole weight of the story. Kind of like a fun, kooky aunt that gets the kids for a weekend and can do a bunch of whacko things while mom has to do all the child rearing. If we had to roll with Rat Man or Bad Weather Jack for 90k words they would probably need to be toned a bit to make them more user-friendly. Unless your MC actually sucks I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    There's another thread on here somewhere that talks about this. I think the genesis was that Harry Potter was one of the least interesting characters in the entire series. Mainly because the others got to come and go and as they pleased and didn't have to hold our hands through the "boring" parts. I don't remember where the thread was but somebody on here might be able to dig it up.
     
    Myrrdoch and Simpson17866 like this.
  3. Odile_Blud

    Odile_Blud Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    132
    I see these questions all the time, and I must say, I can relate to them. My MC's are never my favorite characters in my work. I can't think of one. However, I think it's alright. If your supporting character is taking up most of the "screen time" and it seems to be more of his story than the MC or protagonist's, than you might consider who's story it really is and maybe change your protagonist, but I think it's okay to have a favorite whose role isn't that big. Sometimes, it's just like that.
     
    Myrrdoch and Simpson17866 like this.
  4. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2017
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    171
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    As Odile_Blud says, as long as the main characters are still the main characters, its no big deal. Sometimes secondary characters' jobs are just to show up and be awesome for a scene. Case in point, Iron Bars (the Malazan Book of the Fallen Bars, not the Tales from the Malazan Empire Bars). As I recall, he was in one book in the ten book series, for a handful of chapters. And oh man, does he steal every scene he's in. The story isn't about him, at all. He's just kind of passing through on a tangent. But everyone sure knows he was there.
     
  5. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2015
    Messages:
    1,836
    Likes Received:
    2,778
    Location:
    UK
    Back in the days I used to give the interesting minor characters the next story. So even up till just some months ago I could draw a line back to my characters I wrote about when I was eleven. The story wasn't alike, but the protagonists had some relation to someone who knew someone who... you get the point. While that might've been a good way for some to work, it's mainly been a waste of time for me. Nothing good has come from it, except making me a better story teller. (I hope. 15 years is a long time to still be shit ;))

    I recently deleted all those things. Felt like I needed to cut the ties.

    At the moment I don't have enough minor characters to let them steal the show, though. But that will probably happen once I flesh everything out.
     
  6. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    530
  7. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,541
    Likes Received:
    4,776
    I would question if your MC is active enough - is she leading events? Initiating actions? Making decisions that have an impact on the stakes, the lives of those around her etc? Is she taking risks? Changing MCs isn't the answer because the moment you change your MC, the new MC will run into exactly the same problem you have now - eg. being a little dull and overshadowed by others. It's usually a sign that the MC has no goal and is not driven towards anything in particular.

    Or certainly that's why my secondary characters always overshadow my MC...

    Your MC needs to make things happen, instead of having things happen to them. Then he will suddenly become a lot more interesting.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice