Side Characters

why the "unimportant" people actually matter

Readers tend to focus a lot on the main characters. But, side characters can offer a focused look into a particular theme or message, due to their limited appearance. They do this by saying or doing something interesting in a brief moment, before exiting their scene. Think of Side Characters almost as a "mini-test" from the author on if the reader is paying attention or not.

So what can you do when encountering a Side Character? Think of their role in a story and what purpose they serve. Afterwards, link these minor characters to the main characters or other things in the novel, perhaps there is a particular similarity or difference?

Ex. This servant character is yelled at in every scene he is in. His abuse at the hands of other upper-class characters could mean….

Ex. The author uses his jester character to make harsh commentary on the main characters. When the jester makes fun of his masters, what is actually happening is...

Ex. Even the main character's sister makes a limited appearance due to her sickness, she is actually an important figure because she represents virtue and innocence. The reader understands this connection by lines such as...


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