I spend a lot of time getting to know my lead characters. I catalog their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, dreams and fears. But I have learned to put just as much effort into my secondary characters—the people my protagonist and antagonist deal with.
The scene in question should have been a show-stopper, but it fell flat. Everything between my main character and the sidekick seemed forced and unnatural. I was stumped.
I tackled the scene from a different point of view. My protagonist is dealing with an acquaintance determined to make life difficult.
It had been a device to move the story along, but I failed to think through why this person so strongly opposed my lead. When I rewrote the scene from the secondary character’s perspective:
- I discovered Reason and Motive, bringing realism and depth to both the character and the scene.
- I uncovered new foibles in my hero that I can use to my advantage later.
This exercise reminded me that there are always two sides to every story. It’s our job as writers to get to the bottom of both.
Jennifer Lindsay began the Guild’s Apprentice course while earning her bachelor’s degree in English and has since completed the Journeyman and Craftsman courses.