Happy Saturday, friends! Welcome to the second half of February, which means we’re closing in on March. Which means Spring is almost here. Okay, maybe not, but those of us here in Indiana tend to get a touch of cabin fever about now–especially after this year’s winter.
But enough about the weather. Today I get to dish about one of my favorite topics in books and film–secondary characters. Regardless of how you refer to them–secondary characters, supporting characters, sidekicks–I absolutely love them.
From Lula in the Stephanie Plum novels to Guinan in Star Trek the Next Generation, or even Gloria Washington in my North Star Trilogy, secondary characters are unique, memorable and the stories just wouldn’t be the same, or nearly as entertaining, without them. For example, let’s take a look at Dobby, the house elf in the Harry Potter stories.
To me, there are a lot of things that make Dobby great, but for now I’ll stick to a few that I think apply to all great secondary characters. First, there’s some mystery about him. You know he’s a house elf and has worked for the Malfoy family for years, but that’s about it when it comes to his back story. To this day, I’ve always wanted to know more about him. Where did he come from? How old is he? What happened to bring him to work for the Malfoys? J.K. Rowling left me wanting to more about Dobby. And that, my friends, is what I think a great secondary character should elicit–a desire to know more about him or her.
Another great thing about Dobby is that even though we don’t see much of him, when we do, we know it’s important. After all, he doesn’t even appear until the second book of the series, though it is a rather memorable appearance. He’s a character of few words, but inevitably those words he passes on are powerful. In general, you didn’t see Harry arguing with Dobby much. Along that line, the choices Dobby makes change the course of the story. After all, had he not chosen to betray the Malfoys to begin with, he never would have been in position to sacrifice himself to protect Harry.
Which brings me to my last point about great secondary characters–you come to love them. I’ll admit, Dobby’s death hit me harder than any of the other characters whose lives were lost in Harry Potter. Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore–each of their passings crushed me, but Dobby’s passing left me in tears. The way he did it, protecting Harry, was the definition of heroic.
That my friends, is the beauty of the secondary character. Somehow, some way, the author finds a way to have that bit player get under your skin. I mean, let’s be honest, would the Stephanie Plum novels (all twenty of them) be as much fun if you removed Lula? Absoutely not. I guarantee you Annie and E.J. would never have met had it not been for Gloria’s guidance.
At the end of the day, I believe the universe of stories is just…better with the well-written secondary character in it. Secondary characters are like flowers and ice cream. Sure, the world would probably go on without them. But it’s a heck of a better place with them in it.
How about you? Who are some of your favorite secondary characters? I’d love to hear from you. And thanks to the wonderful authors of the Contemporary Romance Café for letting me visit today. Until next time, may the wind be at your back and the sun shine warm upon your face!
The youngest of eight children, Jim grew up in a household full of books and people. Thanks to the influence of his older siblings, he gravitated toward fantasy and sci-fi when looking for something to read. He wrote his first story at age fourteen. A school project, The Magic Coin was a fantasy that involved a king, some bad guys, and, not surprisingly, a magical token.
These days, Jim writes romance on the sweet end. If you ask him what is a guy like him is doing writing romance, he’ll reply, “Those are the stories in my head.” A believer that the world has enough doom and gloom, he likes stories with a happy ending, regardless of genre.
He lives in Indianapolis with his wonderful wife Nancy and his two sons, Seamus and Aidan.
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