Naturally, as part of your storyworld, your hero and heroine will come in contact with many other people. The first thing I do is make a list of the normal people they might know. For instance, if my hero is the captain of a ship, he'd have a first mate, second mate, quartermaster..etc.. in other words, a crew! Even if he's a simple farmer, he will have a family, farm workers, friends. Usually, my heroine will live amongst relatives such as parents or cousins or an uncle. These are all people who are normally a part of their lives. I write them all down on a list and give them names and occupations and how they relate to my hero or heroine.
But here comes the fun part. (And sometimes, a very complicated part), I need to choose the dominant secondary characters, assign them a role, and plan how they will either assist or deter the hero or heroine from achieving their goals. Not all of the secondary characters in a book will be dominant. Most will be what I call fillers. They merely exist in the story, are part of the plot, but they really play no role in moving it forward. The dominant ones are very important because they will play a part in moving the main characters forward through the story, both physically and spiritually.
Here are the roles I assign my secondary characters. These are taken from the book 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. (Highy recommended book)
1. Magi – voice of wisdom/ been there, done that. Often unwilling to help hero and prefers to be left alone.
2. Mentor – more like the hero and closer to level. Can be negative or positive
3. Best Friend – Hero’s confidant
4. Lover –
1. Joker – troublemaker with a sharp wit
2. Jester – funny but usually means well most of the time
3. Nemesis – a friendly troublemaker just trying to mess things up for hero for the fun of it
4. Investigator – butting in when not wanted or needed. Insecure. Tries to control
5. Pessimist – constantly disapprove of hero
6. Psychic – know it all/superior attitude power hungry
7. Villain - the antagonist
1. Shadow – mirrors the hero’s flaws or shortcomings
2. Lost soul – symbolizes hero’s past
3. Double – a role model – who the hero wants to be
I don't use them all in each book, but I choose those who fit my plot and purpose. Let me give you some examples from my last book, Surrender the Dawn
- Villain - Abner Tripp- trying to ruin the hero, Luke Heaton, because Luke humiliated him in the past
- Pessimist - Cassandra's Mother who tried to discourage Cassandra from her goal and turn her onto the wrong path.
- Mentor - Reverend Drummond - gives spiritual advice to both hero and heroine
- Role Model - Margaret Dayle - Cassandra's maid who provides an example of a woman who completely trusts God
- Investigator - Milton Crane who tried to get Cassandra for himself and was always butting into her business
- Best friend to Luke - Noah Brenin
- Magi to Luke - Biron his first mate who is a godly man and is always giving Luke good advice