by Caroline Clemmons
Part of the fun of writing is creating interesting, quirky secondary characters. Unlike the hero and heroine, secondary characters don’t have to be bigger than life. As authors we can play around with these guys and make them zany or annoying or heroic.
Caution—carefully balance creating characters that are memorable and interesting without letting them steal the spotlight from the hero and heroine. A good secondary character exposes the best qualities of the hero/heroine. The secondary character also encourages the hero/heroine. In a crisis, the secondary character may mediate.
The multi-purpose assistant is a common theme in crime stories, cozies, and romantic suspense. Late mystery writer Robert B. Parker’s Hawk is one of my favorites. Since main character Spencer has to abide by the rules to keep his P.I. license, Hawk is the go-to guy for gray areas. Hawk is not afraid to cross the line—any line.
The secondary characters on whom I am concentrating today are (1) the confidante/best friend, (2) those who facilitate the plot/mentor the hero/heroine, or (3) those who can turn into a leading character in the next book of a series. Not that it’s necessary that secondary characters fall into one of these categories. Each book is peopled with characters that serve various functions, and one character might serve multiple functions, as does Mildred Vandermeer in my current paranormal time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.