Any discussion about writing a book will often emphasize the importance of characters – the people that inhabit a story and essentially drive its moving parts. The best stories often have the best characters.  These fictional beings are not only realistic but they are also well rounded and easily relatable. In fact, the effort you inject into creating your characters will often manifest in the quality of your story.


The Importance of Support Characters in a Story

Supporting characters, the individuals that surround the protagonists and antagonists of any story, rarely receive the attention they deserve. Minor characters typically have a brief or modest role in a story, but they contribute to the intrigue of the story or the development of main characters. Minor as they might be in some cases, the mark of a great story and, hence, a great book, is a well-rounded cast.  The characters must not only be distinct but they should also play a notable role in the plot of the story. ChatEbooks lists down reasons why support characters play an important role in the development of a story.

Plot Advancement

When writing a book, the minor characters of your story should play a major role in driving the plot forward. It’s the surrounding cast that make the magic happen.  They are the ones who create the conflict necessary for propelling these events forward. Without the presence of well-rounded minor characters, a story can grow stale, repetitive and stagnant.  The inclusion of these important individuals, their reactions, and various interactions, allow the story to advance.

Theme Development

The protagonists and antagonists of any story are typically very immobile characters. They are capable of doing little more than following a direct path to the climax of any given plot.   They tread their course fulfilling the roles heroes and villains are expected to play by engaging one another. It often falls to the minor characters to essentially develop and support the themes of the story. It is their interactions with the primary characters that allows an author to delve into the themes he wishes highlight.

Character Development

More often than not, the characters surrounding the main character act as his or her foil. It is by contrasting them with a wider cast of characters that the traits of the main characters begin to shine. Main characters can only stand out when they are among the supporting characters with whom they can be compared.  

Supporting characters also help balance character traits. For example, to show the softer side of a hardboiled police detective, give him a pregnant wife or kids. Or even a no-holds barred sidekick. It’s by applying the old adage “opposites attract” that causes the protagonists’ strongest attributes to manifest.


Main characters are typically reactionary in the role they play. They wait for events to happen and take action accordingly.  Main characters usually act as the eyes of the audience into a world they are wholly unfamiliar with.  It therefore often falls upon minor characters to deliver exposition and impart information that is necessary to advance the story.

When writing a book, developing effective minor characters can be challenging. Take your time crafting the intricate characteristics of your supporting cast. Your choice in doing so may determine whether your story reaches its true potential or flounders and disappoints. 


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Writing A Book - The Importance of Support Characters in a Story
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