Happy Friday everyone!! Casey here.
One of the fun things about being a writer is breathing life into your characters. Imagining a back story, figuring out their goals, their appearance, and so much more. But my all time favorite act is creating the hero and heroine’s family and friends.
Often times, I don’t have to think too hard. They present themselves rather quickly and can be scene-stealers if I let them. Early on, I usually know if the heroine has siblings and whether they get along. Or maybe her parents were overbearing and smothering. Perhaps, they weren’t there at all and she’s been raised by someone else. Same goes with friends, colleagues and pets. My stories have them all!
When I think of my favorite books and television shows, I can’t think of a single one where the main characters don’t have family or friends in their lives. Often times, their loved ones can push their buttons like no one else. And on the flip side, no one understands them better than anyone else.
Imagine how dull and boring Little Women would have been if Jo didn’t have her sisters. Or how lifeless Stephanie Plum’s adventures would be without Lula or Grandma Mazur. Even Ebenezer Scrooge, super curmudgeon, has his faithful nephew Fred to anchor him to his past through his beloved sister Belle.
On the other hand, the lack of a solid support system is just as telling and can define the character’s actions and reactions. There are a lot of orphans in books – Oliver Twist, Cinderella, Harry Potter, James Bond, Heidi, Clark Kent, Jane Eyre, and Frodo Baggins – to name only a small fraction!
Granted all of the characters I mentioned rose above their orphanhood and went on to perform good and heroic deeds. But none of them did it alone (thank you Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger).
And that brings me back to family and friends (aka secondary characters). For me, secondary characters are just as important. Like in real life, we would all be lonely if we had no friends or family. We are social beings by nature. Even if your character is mostly a loner, there is usually someone (either human or animal) in his or her life.
If you need inspiration, <ahem>, borrow bits and pieces of personality from your family and friends. Now that we’re in the full swing of the holiday season, there are more people than ever around. If you don’t mind the crowds, people watch!
So remember, when you’re creating your world, populate it with more than just the hero and heroine. Otherwise, all you’ll have is an empty and lifeless world.
Who are your favorite supporting characters? And without naming names, have you ever “borrowed” traits from friends and family?
13 thoughts on “We Are Family”
I dedicated my latest book to my siblings, since, without them, I would never have been able to get the family dynamics down in my books. Nice post, Casey.
Thanks Becky. I couldn’t agree more. I know my own husband and sons have given me a better understanding of the male point of view that I would have never had otherwise!
Sweet post, Casey! I love secondary characters. They are the perfect accompaniment to well developed main characters. Family relationships can show so much about what’s important to our hero/heroine, what makes them tick, and what ticks them off. I don’t necessarily model secondary characters after anyone on purpose, but in hindsight, I can usually see traits of people I know in some of my character’s families and friends. I think that’s probably how imagination works–one part make believe, and three parts life experience and observation. Those are three of my favorite people in that photo! Thanks for sharing…
I know some of my secondary characters have traits eerily similar to the men in my house! They are a great source of “man-speak”!
And I love that photo too and our lovely friends in it!
Life would not be much fun without our friends and family and we all gain is someway from the people in our lives, for better or for worse! 🙂
That is so true! And if not family or friends, there are always neighbors, classmates and co-workers to liven things up!
I “borrowed” traits from my sister for my first novel. I’m sure it doesn’t help I actually named the character after my sister, too. But it never got published, so I’m sure she’ll never know… Until she reads this post 🙂
I won’t tell if you don’t 🙂 Thanks for visiting me today Shelley!
I love my secondary characters. Sometimes I love them more than my hero and heroine. Right now I’m loving a secondary character a little too much. She’s stealing the book.
I know!! I can think of a few of my secondary guys that I love! And your sexy Colin – I loved him right from the get go.
Great post Casey. Secondary characters for me, I am still working on them. I find myself asking Tom, would he do or say this or that? It sure is helpful to ask family for their input.
Hi Gail! You are way nicer than me. I don’t ask, I observe (possibly like a creepy stalker) and then shamelessly borrow traits or phrases that I like!