Adopting My Own Chaucers   5 comments

Do you have a favorite secondary character in your books? Or a favorite sub-plot?


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A Knight’s Tale shows the power of a well-written secondary character to capture the heart of the audience. We all adored Heath Ledger’s servant-turned-night, but it was Paul Bellamy’s character of Chaucer that got all the attention.

In other examples, there’s the fine comic characters Shakespeare sprinkled throughout his plays. Many of us remember their lines more than we remember those of the main character.

Favorite Byways

Secondary characters and subplots can be all sorts of fun because I feel freer to experiment with them, be a little quirky, do the unexpected.

Since I write series, there’s a lot of subplots that are side channels to the main story arc. I’m not sure I can identify something as a subplot. Some of these little detours have become important elements to the main plot that will bear fruit in later books.

Favorite Second Bananas?

This is where I have an easier time answering. Some of my favorite secondary characters might become primary characters in later books, but this is where they stand currently.

Stan Osimowitz, mayor of Mara Wells, is a secondary character I almost always enjoy writing. He’s loosely based on some men I knew growing up. Always ready with a quip, Stan makes wry comments about his world on a daily basis.

For the exact opposite reason, I enjoy writing Alex Lufgren (also from Transformation Project). Alex is earnest and moral and he absolutely loves. Originally, I thought he’d be a main character, but so far he’s been a back-burner slow development and yet, think he’s going to do some big things in future books. Why? Because I know the story he’s telling me. It’s totally consistently Alex, but it’ll surprise some folks.

Over in the What If Wasn’t universe, Trevor Grey remains my favorite side character who has the potential to carry a book all on his own. Trevor is bigger than life — bold, quirky, and a good friend despite the complications that are hinted at from time to time. I especially enjoy that he has no filter because when the obvious needs to be spoken, Trevor can be counted on to blurt it out. He’s got a lot of potential as a character and that’s what I want in side characters — to give me an opportunity to use them for something bigger. As you read, you just know there’s more there than meets the eye, so where is the character going to go next. I’m not telling, of course, but Trevor won’t disappoint, I promise.

In the What If Wasn’t series, my favorite side character became a main character in the third book — Clotilde Matrim Wyngate burst out of her mousy role as the family housekeeper to reveal herself as Alan Wyngate’s young wife. I knew that was coming from the first book, but I didn’t really know who Tilly would be until I started writing her and I couldn’t be more pleased with her transformation. She will also have a future in the rest of the series.

Side Characters and Subplots

I think they provide enormous opportunities to play with a story a bit, to do things you can do with your main characters and create some fun variety from the main plot. Especially with writing series, I need to toss in some variety to freshen the story while continuing toward the final destination.

5 responses to “Adopting My Own Chaucers

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  1. I love when characters take on a life of their own!


  2. One of my minor characters now has a book (and half a sequel) of their own. Not only that, I’ve always considered the location to be a secondary character, just one without dialogue.


  3. Good to give a secondary character some limelight!


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