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?