I love a good main character. Nay, a GREAT main character! What makes a great main character? The supporting characters. Think about it, as soon as a “character” in your own life crosses your path, what happens? You’re challenged. Does your road twist and turn? Do you all of sudden realize you’re heading in a new direction? Or do you decide that where you’re going is exactly where you need to go?
A character doesn’t have to be another person, it can be your own mind sometimes. Weather is another character (though it’s not utilized in this way enough, in my opinion). Forces both inside and out, whether we can control them or not. Can we avoid them, or must we learn from them?
We call them supporting characters, not secondary or side characters, because, “…the other characters in your story must support the development of that main character,” and, “…to help develop the protagonist more fully.”
The villain doesn’t support the protagonist, Sarah. Hold thine horses, ye who feasts thine eyes upon this piece of writing.
bear all or part of the weight of; hold up
The villain may bear all of the weight of the anger of the protagonist, the hurt, or maybe even their dark side.
In the DIYMFA book, there are five main supporting characters that Gabriela talks about:
- Love Interest (LI)
I have a separate list of nine archetypes. This list includes the:
- Protagonist (MC)
- Guardian (mentor)
- Love interest/relationship character
I have no idea where I found this list.
Anyway, I’d actually like to focus on the five that are in the book. The question for this post is, what is my favorite supporting character, and why?
Sometimes the love interest and the BFF (sidekick) can be too close to the protag (MC), often resulting in always being on their side. Or maybe, the MC likes them because they challenge them. I just don’t like the way the LI blinds the MC, and their main goal in life is to save and protect them. Like, hi, I’m the MC, and I had a life before I laid eyes on the LI, and now, my character development doesn’t matter, only running after them matters.
In real life, we don’t imprint (Twilight) or have a prophesy (Zelda) on our lives. This isn’t fantasy, people, this is real life.
Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.
So, to answer the question, I think my favorite supporting character has to be the fool.
The Fool’s purpose is to “tell it like it is,” to set the protagonist straight and debunk any myths or misconceptions that the protagonist buys into.
I like the characters that oppose the MC. The ones with their head on straight (or appear to have their head on straight). The ones who are level headed and play devil’s advocate (which I personally love to do).
I like the characters that challenge the MC. In my current work in progress (WIP), Dementis, Ethan (the MC) has a few of those. Caleb, the leader of the second group, definitely butts heads with Ethan. There’s one scene where the first group (Ethan and his friends) are talking about boxes. Caleb shows up and challenges their opinion with one that is, dare I say, out of the box.
But Rede, who came from the same place as Ethan, also challenges Ethan. They may come from the same place (a bunker), but they don’t come from the same group. Rede uses brawn, while Ethan uses his brain. Plus, Rede is a bully, so he has to challenge everyone anyway.
I love looking at situations from all sides, and trying to come up with multiple endings to the same story. Like I said, I like to play devil’s advocates.
Then, why isn’t the villain my favorite character? Well, I don’t even believe in villains, but that’s for another post. The reason is, because “villains” are pretty one sided. I don’t like one sided people.
I don’t mind mentors, I think they’re just fine and dandy. Everyone needs a mentor. But it’s the fool that comes out of nowhere and tests the MC when it really matters, in the middle of the journey. The MC might run back and ask the mentor for help. That’s fine. But fools are rampant. We run into more fools than we do mentors, don’t we? Don’t we?!
Who is your favorite supporting character, and why? Leave a comment below!
Thank you for reading, and I’ll talk to you soon!
This post is inspired by the DIYMFA Book Club writing prompt, “Let’s Talk about Supporting Characters.”