Posts belonging to Category Secondary characters

Yardstick Characters

While it may be technically possible in games, being able to completely quantify a character in clean, objective terms is difficult, and in a straight story, it’s next to impossible (and even if it were possible, you’d have to be careful how you did it). So for the most part, characters are often seen in [...]

Secondary Character Exercise: Someone Else’s Story

One of the biggest problems people often see with secondary characters is when their creator doesn’t take much of an interest in them. I’m not saying they suddenly need to steal the story, but it helps to spend a little time in their heads, make them more than just caricatures on the page. Empathize with [...]

Avoiding Gimmick Takeover

Some characters have roles that encompass most of their personality. Some have traits that are supposed to set them apart from other characters. Still others can be traced pretty easily to a standard character archetype, and then there are those who sling their catch phrases whenever possible. These are all character gimmicks, and they all [...]

An NPC’s Guide to Snarking with Impunity

We all know those PCs are dangerous people, particularly with regards to us NPCs. More narrative importance, greater survival rates—and we don’t care what value their power’s over, just that it’s certainly greater than ours. And so many of them don’t have too much of a sense of humor about their own failings, so if [...]

Giving Secondary Characters Their Moments

Who says the world has to revolve around the heroes? Your secondary characters deserve a little time in the spotlight as well; if they aren’t doing anything, after all, why are they there?
For a writer, giving a secondary character a Moment isn’t too hard. Everyone has a set of skills suited to a specific purpose; [...]

Non-Uniform Reactions: Faces in the Crowd

This is another of those topics that branches from the idea that no two people are the same. Yes, this should be obvious, but it often gets lost in the rush when people are trying to juggle large casts of characters, and what results is oversimplified reactions. Perhaps an entire group worth of people are [...]

What Do You Want?

This one’s probably more important for the side characters, but I think a lot of cliché plots could ultimately be improved by people taking this question into account. And so I put it before you as a way to get to know your characters. Sit down with them, and ask them, “What do you want?”
A [...]

Motives Operandi

Even when they’re of the same type, not all crimes are alike. Some thefts are well-planned and for a purpose, while others are last-minute; some murders meant to shock, some to silence, some to not have happened in the first place; some kidnappings are for ransom, some to protect the victim from someone else, some [...]

The Unreliable Witness

Most writers are familiar with the concept of an unreliable narrator, a character who for whatever reason isn’t telling it like it is. But for mystery writers, the unreliable narrator is even more useful. Take him, mix him with your standard witness, and you get an unreliable witness, a way to get across information without [...]

Mystery: Calling in the Cast

So you’re looking into planning a mystery, and you’ve already figured out what happened. Now it’s time to figure out who the people involved are. In general, the characters connected to a standard mystery come in three varieties: suspects, witnesses and experts. That doesn’t mean there isn’t overlap between the groups—I’ve seen characters who ranged [...]