Characters are crucial to any book or film; they draw us in, make us feel emotionally invested and help carry the story forward. I read a great post over on Hayley Knighten’s blog recently about what attracts readers to a particular character and my conclusion was that, for me, it’s one with substance; one with something interesting to say; a real driving force rather than a bystander void of any real personality or depth. I soon realised what characters were springing to mind when I thought of this and was surprised to realise the majority of them were in fact supporting characters.
In many cases, I find that heroes and heroines are actually the most flat, one-dimensional characters within the plot. They are so heavily embroiled in the main arc that they become largely tools to drive the story and are sometimes deprived of the chance to show real growth and individuality. The characters around them – the ones that introduce supporting ideas, sub-plots and themes – they are so often the ones given the opportunity to really shine.
How often do we see an every-man hero who remains somewhat neutral that encounters quirky side-kicks, enigmatic love interests and evil foes throughout their adventure? It’s a structure that works, that’s why it is so popular, and my purpose is not to say that I don’t like every-man lead characters; quite the contrary. I was simply rather intrigued by my realisation that it is those around them – the often unsung supporting characters – that really draw me into a story and keep me hooked.
Are there any supporting characters in film or literature that you love?