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It got me thinking, because I’ve seen many books written by secondary characters from a series, like Destroy Me (yet unreleased) by Tahereh Mafi written from the Shatter Me antagonist’s POV, and The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa written from the Iron Fey Series love interest’s POV. Veronica Roth even released a scene from the love interest’s POV of her Divergent series titled Free Four and Stephanie Meyer wrote The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, written from a minor character’s POV from the Twilight series.
It got me thinking, because we writers tend to be pretty good at developing our protagonists, love interests and antagonists, but what about the rest of the cast? What about the minor characters and secondary (non-love interest) characters? Those tend to get less attention.
Unless you’re a plotting master/first drafter extraordinaire, it’s not easy to develop minor and secondary characters as well as you’ve (hopefully) developed the protagonist and other major characters in the first draft—hell, even fully developing your protagonist and major characters in the first draft is quite an accomplishment on its own. But as you start working through revisions, it may be a good time to take a good look at the characters that didn’t get as much attention at the beginning of the writing process. How well do you know them? Is there room for growth that you could incorporate into the plot?
I’m not suggesting that you delve into the background of every character in your book (at least, not within the prose, anyway). All I’m saying is that every character is important, and if you intend to make them more than cardboard cut-outs, you’ll need to take some time getting to know them, so that they come alive on the page.
Don’t sell your minor characters short. If you take the time to develop them, I think you might find that many of them will turn out to be just as interesting and fun to develop as your major characters.
UPDATE: I found the quote! It was a tweet from agent Jonny Geller:
Make your reader want to read the unwritten novel of your minor characters as well.Do you take the time to get to know your minor characters? What is your favorite minor character from a book?
— jonny geller (@jonnygeller) September 3, 2012