A good supporting character is like a great sidekick that can breathe new life into the story. I can think of so many great buddy movies that have great sidekicks and memorable supporting characters like Butch & Sundance (awesome buddy movie), LA Detectives Riggs & Murtaugh (Lethal Weapon), and Anti-Terrorism Task Force Agents Harry & Gib (True Lies).
In creating book two in my Emily Stone Series, Dead Game, I found that my original outline was missing an important element and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I had done my research, outlined the story completely, and answered those tough questions that only your hero or heroine can answer to make everything work together.
The storyline worked, but I realized that I needed a stronger and even a memorable supporting character to go up against the strong, confident Emily Stone. That’s when I breathed new life into the plot and “Jordan Smith” was born.
Ah yes… the character of Jordan. For those of you who haven’t read Dead Game, Jordan is one of those characters that can be quite annoying, saying whatever idea pops into his head even when it’s at a most inopportune time, and he always seems to be there when you don’t want him to be. I think you know the type. You might have worked with someone like this, lived next door to this guy, or even have a relative that reminds you exactly of him. That’s the character I wanted to create.
I wanted there to more of a contrast and even some minor comic relief in a story that is dark and quite disturbing at times with the inner workings of a serial killer on the loose. Jordan is a strong, intelligent character as well, but he is the person that you either really like or can’t stand as a former FBI agent specializing in criminal profiling. I loved creating a somewhat controversial character and it was just basically a lot of fun for me as a writer.
I received many comments from readers about Jordan and it made me laugh. So that’s why Jordan returns in my latest thriller Dark Mind. I felt that his presence completed and even complimented the cast of characters and eased some of the stressful situations and heightened other ones.
Here’s my brief question checklist for creating a memorable supporting character:
- Does he/she add to the plot and storyline?
- Does he/she challenge the protagonist in any way?
- Does he/she cause a reaction from the reader? Good or bad?
- Does he/she make the antagonist crazy, annoyed, or even afraid?
- Does he/she push the story up a notch?
- Does he/she assist the protagonist in ways that they wouldn’t have normally dreamed?
- Is he/she a memorable character worth caring about?
What memorable supporting characters or sidekicks come to mind for you?
* * *