The Others and the Extras: The Importance of Secondary Characters

A Minor CharacterOh, the lament of the poor minor character!

Pushed to the sidelines, knowing full well that they are not the focus of the story.

Love is probably not in the cards for them. They are the ones injured in the line of duty or acting as living joke. Characters created merely to be a soundboard for the main characters, or something for the reader to compare the main character to in the universe of the story. A tool, nothing more.

It would be a thankless life, I am sure, if they were real. Probably spent at the refreshment table, trying not to fall asleep as they wait for their big moment in the sun. And then the scene arrives, there are a few quick jokes, maybe a heart-to-heart and then they are back at the table, once again snacking on one too many cookies.  Waiting… always waiting.

Everything about the secondary character revolves around the main character. An existence built solely around another’s experiences. Even if a secondary character dies, it is a moment for the main character to reflect upon their own life decisions… unless they are an evil secondary character than usually they are left on the floor somewhere, discarded, a bloody remain for someone else to find later (but we never read about or see that bit in movies or television).

Yet, for me, the secondary characters are important; because like a missed plot point, an awkward description, or a writing oops, they have the power to rip me out of a story, leaving me on the sidelines of a tale just like them. Continue reading