Discussion: Secondary Characters!

3.20.2015
I'm writing this post at one in the morning, so I sincerely apologize for any confusion. I'm not even sure I know what I'm trying to say with half of this post. (Though that's probably the case at one in the afternoon, too.)

Secondary characters (or minor characters, or supporting characters, whatever you'd like to call them), to me, are a huge part of novels. While I know that writers only have a limited amount of words (unless you're George R. R. Martin, who can write over 1000 pages and still sell thousands of copies), I don't feel like a book is complete without some fleshed out secondary characters. I've seen several other people state the same. Sure, your main character can wield her swords and work with her love interest to take down the corrupt government. But does she have any friends? No? Okay. That happens. She's a busy gal. But I can't believe that the only characters you can really get to know are the narrator/main character, the (possible, depending on the book) love interest, and maybe the villain, depending on the writer. There are so many people characters come in contact with, all human beings with their own quirks and history.

I would personally say that Finnick Odair is a fantastic example of this. (Cue sobbing.) Plenty of details about his personality and his past are revealed as the books go on. Same with Haymitch, I'd say. I wish I could tell you about some of my favorite secondary characters, but honestly, I can't. I've read so few books in the past two years, and everything before that is such a blur. Which is why I'd love to hear about yours!

Earlier today, I asked on Twitter if anyone knew of any books written from a more minor character's perspective. Not in terms of a spin-off or anything, but a story told from someone close to that super special girl that is usually the narrator of a novel. Like if Red Queen had instead been told from Gisa's perspective. (Though this may be a bad example, since at the current part I'm in, Gisa and her sister are nowhere near each other.) Or if the Harry Potter series had instead been told from Ron's perspective. (Okay, this one is a bit excessive because that's a lot of books and Ron is arguably a main character and not a secondary one. But you get the idea. I hope.)

From the Ember in the Ashes trailer - credit to Penguin Teen!
I didn't receive an answer. Not that I really expected to. Who wants to write that book when you have a much more interesting character who's leading a revolution? But I, personally, am interested in the psychology of it. With a character watching from the sidelines as someone else ignites a resolution, or discovers amazing powers, or defeats all the villains, there's got to be something there - whether it's envy, an overwhelming amount of sympathy, I don't know. And I'm interested in all the behind-the-scenes sorts of things we would get to see. I don't know about you, but I'd say a lot of heroes and heroines manage to accomplish a lot of complicated things with very minimal help. A different character could be seen doing a lot of the grunt work, or just helping out along the way. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT ANYMORE.

Ultimately, I think it would take a very special author to write this kind of story. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like. 

Of course, this entire post is geared towards everything but contemporary. Contemporaries, for me, tend to generally have more secondary characters that I love; I think Stephanie Perkins does a fantastic job with this.

Anyway. If you're still here after that long-winded, entirely opinionated and confusing post:

Who are your favorite secondary characters? Do you agree/disagree with what I've said? What thoughts do you have on secondary characters? What authors do you think could pull this off? Please let me know! I'm sure I'm just completely ignorant of all the things.


4 comments on "Discussion: Secondary Characters!"
  1. I totally get what you mean about secondary characters narrating! I think it happens, but we don't realise it because even if it's a "secondary like" character...they're still ultimately the MAIN character if they're narrating. I just finished Nightbird by Alice Hoffman and it was totally by a secondary character. All the weird/magical stuff happened to her brother and friends and she was sort of always lurking in the shadows. I also sometimes think that, in Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, it's really SAM'S story, not Grace's, even though Grace narrates.
    It's a really interesting topic!!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about Shiver! I feel like Cole and Isabel are definitely secondary characters in the rest of the series (besides Sinner), but they narrate so much of it. I hate how murky the territory is!

      Delete
  2. Secondary characters are awesome. Primary characters only look even more special because of the secondary characters complimenting them (whether it's a minor best friend, or a servent frequently dismissed, etc.) I would love to read them, although if there's a novel about secondary characters wouldn't that make them the primary characters now? XD It would only be interesting to me IF I already know him from another novel. Did you try Jeannine Frost's books? She has so many spinoffs of the secondary characters from her original UF series :)

    Faye at The Social Potato

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't follow you on Twitter (which sucks, will do that now!) but I would have come up with loads of characters! there's the characters from The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, there's the characters from Curse Workers by Holly Black, there's Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, there's life Unaware by Cole Gibson, there's so so many (and I don't want to write an essay, so take my word) but you're so right.

    Secondary character's are important, they show a depth and other side to the main characters, they are relatable, they suffer more (most of the time) and they fight and/or as involved, but rarely get the love they deserve, which sucks. Authors *could* write short sample moments, written from a secondary characters point of view and put them up for sale for cheap, I think they'd be surprised how many people buy them you know? Important moments, the moments that matter, they could be brilliant! Such a good post though Zoey, I will be reading more from yo!<3

    ReplyDelete

3.20.2015

Discussion: Secondary Characters!

I'm writing this post at one in the morning, so I sincerely apologize for any confusion. I'm not even sure I know what I'm trying to say with half of this post. (Though that's probably the case at one in the afternoon, too.)

Secondary characters (or minor characters, or supporting characters, whatever you'd like to call them), to me, are a huge part of novels. While I know that writers only have a limited amount of words (unless you're George R. R. Martin, who can write over 1000 pages and still sell thousands of copies), I don't feel like a book is complete without some fleshed out secondary characters. I've seen several other people state the same. Sure, your main character can wield her swords and work with her love interest to take down the corrupt government. But does she have any friends? No? Okay. That happens. She's a busy gal. But I can't believe that the only characters you can really get to know are the narrator/main character, the (possible, depending on the book) love interest, and maybe the villain, depending on the writer. There are so many people characters come in contact with, all human beings with their own quirks and history.

I would personally say that Finnick Odair is a fantastic example of this. (Cue sobbing.) Plenty of details about his personality and his past are revealed as the books go on. Same with Haymitch, I'd say. I wish I could tell you about some of my favorite secondary characters, but honestly, I can't. I've read so few books in the past two years, and everything before that is such a blur. Which is why I'd love to hear about yours!

Earlier today, I asked on Twitter if anyone knew of any books written from a more minor character's perspective. Not in terms of a spin-off or anything, but a story told from someone close to that super special girl that is usually the narrator of a novel. Like if Red Queen had instead been told from Gisa's perspective. (Though this may be a bad example, since at the current part I'm in, Gisa and her sister are nowhere near each other.) Or if the Harry Potter series had instead been told from Ron's perspective. (Okay, this one is a bit excessive because that's a lot of books and Ron is arguably a main character and not a secondary one. But you get the idea. I hope.)

From the Ember in the Ashes trailer - credit to Penguin Teen!
I didn't receive an answer. Not that I really expected to. Who wants to write that book when you have a much more interesting character who's leading a revolution? But I, personally, am interested in the psychology of it. With a character watching from the sidelines as someone else ignites a resolution, or discovers amazing powers, or defeats all the villains, there's got to be something there - whether it's envy, an overwhelming amount of sympathy, I don't know. And I'm interested in all the behind-the-scenes sorts of things we would get to see. I don't know about you, but I'd say a lot of heroes and heroines manage to accomplish a lot of complicated things with very minimal help. A different character could be seen doing a lot of the grunt work, or just helping out along the way. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT ANYMORE.

Ultimately, I think it would take a very special author to write this kind of story. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like. 

Of course, this entire post is geared towards everything but contemporary. Contemporaries, for me, tend to generally have more secondary characters that I love; I think Stephanie Perkins does a fantastic job with this.

Anyway. If you're still here after that long-winded, entirely opinionated and confusing post:

Who are your favorite secondary characters? Do you agree/disagree with what I've said? What thoughts do you have on secondary characters? What authors do you think could pull this off? Please let me know! I'm sure I'm just completely ignorant of all the things.


4 comments:

  1. I totally get what you mean about secondary characters narrating! I think it happens, but we don't realise it because even if it's a "secondary like" character...they're still ultimately the MAIN character if they're narrating. I just finished Nightbird by Alice Hoffman and it was totally by a secondary character. All the weird/magical stuff happened to her brother and friends and she was sort of always lurking in the shadows. I also sometimes think that, in Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, it's really SAM'S story, not Grace's, even though Grace narrates.
    It's a really interesting topic!!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about Shiver! I feel like Cole and Isabel are definitely secondary characters in the rest of the series (besides Sinner), but they narrate so much of it. I hate how murky the territory is!

      Delete
  2. Secondary characters are awesome. Primary characters only look even more special because of the secondary characters complimenting them (whether it's a minor best friend, or a servent frequently dismissed, etc.) I would love to read them, although if there's a novel about secondary characters wouldn't that make them the primary characters now? XD It would only be interesting to me IF I already know him from another novel. Did you try Jeannine Frost's books? She has so many spinoffs of the secondary characters from her original UF series :)

    Faye at The Social Potato

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't follow you on Twitter (which sucks, will do that now!) but I would have come up with loads of characters! there's the characters from The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, there's the characters from Curse Workers by Holly Black, there's Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, there's life Unaware by Cole Gibson, there's so so many (and I don't want to write an essay, so take my word) but you're so right.

    Secondary character's are important, they show a depth and other side to the main characters, they are relatable, they suffer more (most of the time) and they fight and/or as involved, but rarely get the love they deserve, which sucks. Authors *could* write short sample moments, written from a secondary characters point of view and put them up for sale for cheap, I think they'd be surprised how many people buy them you know? Important moments, the moments that matter, they could be brilliant! Such a good post though Zoey, I will be reading more from yo!<3

    ReplyDelete