Karen Odden, “Crafting Secondary Characters: Beyond Friends, Foils and Foes”
ASU Desert Nights, Rising Stars, February 18, 2021
Pull out a sheet of paper or start a word doc. Choose a Secondary Character you’d like to develop and put their name up top. Maybe it’s one that you’re having a problem seeing at the moment.
1. Consider which of the 15 roles they might play, maybe more than one. Write that down. (The list of 15, with descriptions, is on my website at www.karenodden.com, under the FOR WRITERS tab, a few posts before this one, from 3/18/2020.)
2. Now we’re going to begin to describe this person—and we’re going to begin with Characteristics. (For the 4 categories of Characteristics (Static) and a description of each, scroll down to the next blog entry, dated 1/16/2021.)
3. What is a Problematic Story for your character?
4. Where did this Problematic Story come from? Write a short episode, preferably from adolescence but maybe drawing on earlier experiences, again using first person POV, about one experience that helped instill this Problematic Story.
5. Once you have that Problematic Story and its source, can you think of a way that the Secondary Character can refine it or undo it, to evolve, to lead to a greater sense of autonomy or happiness by the end of your book? What might be the Corrected Story?
6. What is something your Secondary Character wants that has nothing to do with the main plot or the main character of your book?
7. Choose a scene in your manuscript, maybe one from later in the book, where your SC appears with your MC. Now, write the scene from the perspective of your SC, keeping in mind their personal myth.