Co-Stars are Underated

5 Aug

Every character that’s ever been written (secondary, background, or otherwise) has had the potential of a story of their own.

I think writers find it easy to forget this. We become so zeroed in on our MC’s story, that we develop blinders for all other characters, which can help in developing that one character to their full potential, but it also can have adverse effects on plot as a whole. 

I think that we tend to look at fiction as the main character(s) having an effect on/interacting with they’re surrounding areas and changing because of the obstacles they encounter. But in that thought we lose so much depth that could be infused into that work/manuscript.

Think of a book you really loved. For this post I’ll be using The hunger games (because of its vast popularity and readership), but i’m sure your favorites will have the same idea.

When we look at the hunger games, we see it as a story of Katniss against the government. That she is facing off against President Snow and the “hunger games”.  We immediately focus in on Katniss (she’s an MC so we should) and we remember most vividly her back story, what her personality is like, etc.  While we tend to more easily forget other characters in the book Like Cinna,  and Finnick (and Annie).

The reason the hunger games was so amazing (or one of the main reasons) is that every character had a story, everyone was fleshed out just a little more than they had to be.

STOP: Granted this does NOT give you liscenes to write an entire chapter about the paper boy riding around the neighborhood because he hands Mrs.X a paper with her “wanted sign” all over it (unless it comes back around that the paper boy framed her. Got it? Continue then.

Anyway, the beauty of Cinna and Finnick is that they had their own individual stories (either of them could really of had their own book had collins choose them to be her MC) Cinna for instance is introduced just as Katniss’ stylist but later we find that he’s much more, that he comes to be Katniss’ friend and later on Ali against the gov.

Finnick Odair is another example his personality (if not slightly narcissistic and bold) makes for excellent fiction. We later find that he has a soft side and is in love with the “crazy” Annie Cresta. Along with some seriously dark backstory about the government framing him to do…. unspeakable things, so nothing would happen to Annie.  His death, in my opinion, was just as horrid to read as Prim’s!

The Point: DON”T FORGET ABOUT YOUR OTHER CHARACTERS! Secondary characters (even if they don’t get a POV) will view situations differently than your MC, and you have to show that in their reactions. They have a back story too, which will affect how they behave, and who they are as people.

You should be spending just as much time on your MC’s co-stars as you spend on your MC. this will lead to elegant sub-plots, and rich dialogue. Making a reality for your reader!

I hope you guys enjoyed the post , even though it was a little late. What do you guys think about fleshing out secondary characters? Any hunger Games fans out there? LIKE if you are!


12 Responses to “Co-Stars are Underated”

  1. Mr. Illusive August 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    For example, sometimes, co-stars take the spotlight. Examples: Jack Sparrow when the movie’s supposed to be about Will Turner. The Dark Knight, where its ostensibly supposed to be about Batman.

    • nkeda14 August 6, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      Now that you say that, I have to agree. Jack Sparrow is amazing! Loved those movies… though number three wasn’t all that great, but number 4 made me like the series again 🙂

      • Mr. Illusive August 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

        I actually didn’t mind #3 that much. #4 was kind of crap IMHO though.

      • nkeda14 August 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

        LOL really? hrmmmm, it was the opposite for me. haha

      • Mr. Illusive August 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

        Haha each to his own. Whatever floats your boat. That sort of stuff.

      • nkeda14 August 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

        Or your pirate ship… 😉

      • Mr. Illusive August 8, 2011 at 10:57 pm #


  2. peacesigngirl21 August 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    This post was exactly right! We almost completely ignore our secondary characters, until they do something important. Then it’s like, “Oh, right! I forgot about -insert name here-!” (I learned a way to make stronger secondary characters at a writer’s conference, and I really like it. It said to dedicate a notebook to write from the secondary character’s POV, like a diary. I’ve been doing it for awhile now and it really helps to get to know them.) 😉
    And the Hunger Games was a good example. I actually cried at Finnick’s death, and I thought it was severely understated. It was just like saying, “Finnick died.” And I was like, O.O. I had to reread the paragraph over and over again, to make sure it was actually there. Then I just screamed, “NOOO!” And as for Prim, did it ever truly announce she was dead during that scene? I was really surprised at that. She was a main character. Sure, it added depth, but was it necessary to kill them off?
    O.O Sorry, long rant. 😀

    • nkeda14 August 6, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      Haha are you a hunger games fan? I couldn’t tell… LOL but yes Finnicks death could of had a little more depth if you ask me. Prim’s almost seemed irrelevent. Why did she even kill Prim? Mockingjay, wasn’t as good as the first two… 😦

      • peacesigngirl21 August 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

        I agree completely. And, yes, I am a Hunger Games fan. Well, of the first two. 😀 I had to force myself to read Mockingjay.

  3. harmamaee August 8, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Secondary characters, if written well, often become the readers’ favourite characters! Someone mentioned Jack Sparrow, above. One of the reasons so many people enjoyed writing Harry Potter fanfiction was because they could take their favourite characters from the many, many characters in the Harry Potter world, and play around with the details that were known about them. JK Rowling, apparently, actually fleshed out details for every one of the characters that were in the same year as Harry. Now that’s paying attention to your secondary characters 🙂

    • nkeda14 August 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

      Some of the fanic for HP is kinda crazy lol. There are masses of it!

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