• Blog

    The role of friends in fiction


    I’m editing a book at the moment and looking right now I’m looking at the role of the secondary characters in the book. Mostly, I’m looking at the friends.

    I love secondary characters in books. Often I love them more than the main character. Ever since I studied Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead back in high school I have been fascinated by the minor characters and what they do off the page (or stage).

    In fiction, I love the role friends play in showing us more about the main characters, revealing parts of the story and of course calling them out on their ridiculous behaviour. My daughter and I were watching The Princess Diaries yesterday…I love the way Mia’s friend Lily is always frank with her, but kind. Just like good friends in real life.

    In honour of the theme here is the theme song from that long-running TV show.

    I’d love to know if you have a secondary character that stays with you.


    Rob Kennedy
    9/2/2012 05:17:28 pm

    Yes some of the secondary characters in books stay with you always. For me, it’s not so much the friends but people like co-workers, waiters and such. Saw the Australian movie Country Life based on Uncle Vanya by Chekhov the other day and the “servants” made the movie come alive.

    They provide a good offset to rigid characters, by bringing them back into reality. I wondered what a book would read like if it was filled with these characters.

    9/2/2012 07:05:04 pm

    Co-workers are a great example…have you read And Then We Came to An End, Rob…the ultimate co-worker book…in my opinion…

    Betina Miller
    9/3/2012 10:48:53 am

    I’ve been reading books by British chick lit author Jill Mansell – she is the one author that immediately comes to mind when I think of secondary characters with a large role in a book. I agree with you – it gives a main character more depth and makes the setting more three dimensional. With her books, it’s almost as if you read several books in one.

  • Blog

    Secondary or minor characters – such fun!


    Question Mark and PenI was thinking yesterday about the role secondary or minor characters play in stories and how much fun some of them are.

    Pride and Prejudice has all those sisters and relatives for example. Where would the story be without Lydia? Little Women well yes it is Jo’s story but imagine it without Beth or Amy. It just doesn’t work does it?

    I love writing minor characters who come in with their energy and opinions and turn people’s lives upside down.

    In Mr Right and Other Mongrels Justin (who is very loosely based on a wonderful friend of mine – just by way of personality) is one of my favourite characters by far. I also adore Teddy’s parents Joyce and Bob. I named them after a friend of mine’s equally lovely parents (that’s the full extent of the resemblance as, for example my friend, and her whole family are American).

    Main characters have to sustain a whole story but minor characters, who of course have their own stories off page, can be as outrageous or gentle as you please and unlike the prtagonists you don’t need to keep throwing trouble at them.

    So today’s question is…who are some of your favourite secondary or minor characters in fiction?