My Passion's Pen

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Cohorts, Henchmen, Villains and Red Shirts: The Care and Feeding of Secondary Characters

Writers In The Storm Blog

Writers in the Storm welcomes back Anne Cleeland to share tips on writing Secondary Characters. Anne last helped us sort through the accuracy for details of our historicals.

by Anne Cleeland

A story with compelling secondary characters engages the reader by adding another layer of interest to the story.  Whether they are sidekicks, lovers, or shadowy villains, good secondary characters help make the story three dimensional instead of flat, and also make it a lot easier to beef up that all-important word count. As an added bonus, the secondary character often provides the hero with opportunities for bantering or bickering dialogue–always a reader favorite and an easy way to establish likeability.

In most stories, however, there are certain protocols that are expected and probably should be followed when it comes to secondary characters. The writer has to be careful not to violate these unspoken rules at the risk of…

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