Secondary Characters Who Pop by Paty Jager

Most readers remember the main characters or protagonists in a book or story. They carry the story and have the most ups and down, triumphs and failures. I love my main characters and showing their growth and life changes through each book.

But I love coming up with new secondary characters for each book. While some continue through other books because they live in the area where my protagonists do, there are always the new secondary characters who are caught up in the murders. The victims, the people who were close to them, and the people who end up on my suspect chart.

These characters can be as interesting and complex as my protagonists. If they don’t have a complete- well-rounded life for the reader to know about, how will the reader care if their murderer is found? At least that’s how I feel.

The victim, no matter how awful he or she might be, has to have a life before their death. One that, even if the reader doesn’t like them that much, they want to know why and who killed them.

My current WIP ( work in progress) has me really stretching my research skills to make sure my characters from around the world ( the book is set in Iceland at a world-wide SAR conference). SAR is Search and Rescue. When I did my research on the conference that does happen every other year, I noticed that the attendees are from all over the world.

Harpa- this is where the conferences is being held this year.

I have always had an eclectic group of characters. So why stay with only American and Icelandic attendees when the conference draws them in from all over? I have British, Australian, Kenyan, and Japanese characters who are integral to my story. And of course, Icelandic and American.

My bookcase has many useful writing books and the one I used to start my latest WIP was A World of Baby Names. It gives common names from many countries. I have also been emailing with the tour guide I had on my trip to Iceland. He gave me common Icelandic names. He has also helped me with information I’ve been unable to find online or in books. He’s been a lot of fun to work with.

The goal with this in-depth research is to discover how people from these countries would use slang from their countries while speaking English. I feel it will make the people more realistic.

Of course, this is a conference and the other thing that will be working against me and my character will be time. The people will scatter at the end of the four day conference and the body is found on the second day of a pre-conference event. There is going to have to be some quick digging of clues to find out who the murderer is before the attendees scatter all over the world.

I’ll be giving you updates on this as I write.

Do you like well-rounded secondary characters?

First photo source: Depositphotos

Second photo source: Paty Jager

8 thoughts on “Secondary Characters Who Pop by Paty Jager

  1. Great secondary characters often keep me coming back to a writer. Two that come to mind are James D. Doss and Anne Hillerman.Those memorable, three-dimensional people make the whole book live.Sounds like you’re doing a lot of work on your whole cast–this should be a strong book.

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  2. Sometimes a secondary character steals the show. Robert Duvall had a place in my heart after he appeared as Boo Radley in the film version of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Everyone loved Atticus and Scout, but, for me, Boo caught me.

    Dorothy Sayers wrote wonderful mysteries and Lord Peter Wimsey starred in one series until Sayers introduced Harriet Vane as a love interest. Annoyed by Vane’s stealing the spotlight, Sayers planned not to write the femme fatale into future books, but her fans clamored and raised such a fuss, she was forced to feature Vane in a couple of books where Wimsey is her second banana.

    Your article has me recalling many secondary characters I have loved. Thanks for the nudge.

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    1. Very interesting. I like that you give somewhat of a backstory to the victim, as well as the actual criminal. It’s what gives that satisfaction at the end of the book. Okay. That makes sense. That’s fair. Keep up the good work on research (and the fun traveling.)

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