On Writing Secondary Characters

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday!

I’d like to start off by announcing I’ve squashed the distracting butterflies pestering me the last couple of months, and by this weekend, I should have a complete first draft of my YA manuscript!

Okay, so as excited and proud as I am to have climbed and reached the summit of Mount St. First Draft, I’m also anxious. To put it lightly, I have a lot of work ahead of me in draft two. Like, A LOT. I can’t even begin to list the number of issues I have to fix: plot holes, irrelevant scenes, cringeworthy dialogue, flawed characters…Yeesh! However, I’m confident these issues will get fixed. And they’ll get fixed by using great tips from knowledgeable resources, including today’s Twitter gem: On Writing Secondary Characters, courtesy of literary agent, Carly Watters.

tumblr_mmgt9ifhMB1rnvzfwo1_500Let’s face it, it’s easy to focus on developing main characters, especially during a first draft–I know I did! But what about those characters in the background? The ones who support your MCs? Who are they? Why are they in the story? Should they be in the story? Are they relevant? Do they make a difference? Secondary characters may seem trivial when we first create them, but in the long run, they are the ones who make a story POP!

Think about it: Would Pride and Prejudice be the same without Mr. Collins? Or The Mortal Instruments without Magnus Bane? Or Harry Potter without Luna “Loony” Lovegood?


Developing a cast of memorable characters isn’t easy. Writers are told to develop their main character well with motivation, internal and external conflict–but sometimes don’t put the same emphasis on secondary characters because they’re too worried about their MC…

To read the entire article, click here!

For more useful tips and helpful guidance, follow Carly Watters on Twitter!

Related Articles

Who Needs Secondary Characters?

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

In Someone Else’s Story: life as a minor character


6 thoughts on “On Writing Secondary Characters

  1. I love that you talk about so many amazing issues in writing (my second draft of my novel is still the bane of my existance) and I really struggle with fleshing out the secondary characters. Thanks for yet another great resource.


  2. My problem with my current book’s first draft is that while writing it the secondary characters became more interesting and had a deeper story then the main ones…. I’m hoping I can still save the original main characters and then do a spin off with the secondary characters. {crossing my fingers}


    1. Characters are a pain in the rear! haha…ugh.

      I like to imagine a “camera” on my main characters. It should never stray too far from them and their purpose. Secondary characters should only–essentially–exist to support them, not steal the limelight…Well, not completely. God knows Luna Lovegood is my favorite character from HP 😉

      If your secondary characters ARE driving the heart of your story, then maybe they’re meant to be your MCs, after all? I’ll admit, I’ve upgraded secondary characters to leads a few times. I just can’t smother a loud, demanding character. I figure if they want to steal the show, then let them. It’s likely they have a more interesting tale to spin than my MCs.

      …Ok, not sure if any of those suggestions helped you, so just consider them food for thought :-p


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