An author recently reminded me that minor characters really play a major role in novels. That started me thinking about what she means. Do I agree? I do. Without thinking about it, I’ve used support men and women in my novels as a way to develop my heroes and heroines. The authors I read find ways to advance the plot with interesting characters that add depth to the protagonists.
What would a story be without the mothers, sisters, best friends, grandmothers, and friends of the heroine? What would my life be without the same group of people? As my sisters prod me to be better and to grow, an author can have them interact to reveal inner strengths and weaknesses of the major characters. Do you sometimes find the life of minor characters as interesting and important as the main ones?
I’ve thought of a few examples of the utmost importance of the support role. See if you agree. What about Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice, and her best friend Charlotte Lucas. The way Elizabeth interacts with her longtime friend shows a side of Elizabeth that her mother and sisters don’t necessarily see. Elizabeth is deliberate in her dealings with Charlotte, even hurting her when Charlotte chooses to marry Elizabeth’s cousin. Many minor characters shine in this novel: Mrs. Bennet, all her sisters, and even Caroline Bingley. I wouldn’t want any of them to disappear from the novel.
Little Women offers a great cast of characters with Jo raising as the heroine with her three sisters and mother playing tremendous roles. Any of them could have been the number one character, but it was presented with Jo as the future author wanting to tell her family’s story. Without the sisters and mother, Jo’s world would have been very dull indeed.
And of course, I can add my heroine for my Revolutionary Faith Series. Elizabeth Elliott brings a mother, sister, cousin, best friend, and grandmother into her story. She is surrounded by women of strong character strengths and flaws. Her relationships with each form help form her views, her role, her beliefs, her traits….I’ve been able to develop these women through the five book series.
Do you have a favorite example of a book or movie with an impressive support character?