Laura Howard: Secondary Characters in Fiction

9/26/12

Secondary Characters in Fiction



Today I'm taking part in the Girly Book Blog Hop. Don't let the cute name fool you- we're talking about something I find very interesting and I hope you will too, Secondary Characters. I decided to go with some of my favorites rather than from my own fiction.


As a bonus, if you comment at the end and tell me your five favorite secondary characters by October 1 and you'll be entered to win an Amazon e-book of your choice! (up to $5)




Can you imagine the Harry Potter series without Hermione and Ron? Would Frodo have made it to Mt. Doom without Sam?  How would Sherlock Holmes really shine without Watson?


Secondary characters serve many purposes in fiction, whether they are a sharp contrast to the protagonist or a symbolic figure, a teacher or a nemesis. They often give depth and add tension, fleshing out the story-line to make us care for them nearly as much as the hero.

I've brought together a list of some of my favorite secondary characters to show you their importance and inspire you to take great care at painting these characters in real and believable ways.

1. Captain Jack Randall- Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon 

Throughout the first few Outlander books, Jack Randall is weaved into the story as Jamie's nemesis, the    reasons being revealed slowly as the rest of the story unfolds. He is the driving force behind many of Jamie's quirks and the monster that keeps him awake at night. Through Jack, we see both the good and bad sides of Jamie and we feel pain for him, but we also root for him with a fiery passion.

2. America- Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Abby's best friend America is a link to her past, but also is firmly grounded in her present. By witnessing their friendship, we learn who Abby was and that she's trying to put her past behind her. But, she also helps demonstrate the Abby that is trying to do the right thing in the present situation. Without America's gentle, and at times not so gentle, reminders, Abby might not have made the choices she did.

3. Samwise Gamgee- Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Sam is a classic sidekick character. He is Frodo's companion on the journey to destroy the Ring, but he also takes on many other roles throughout the trilogy. He guards Frodo when Frodo is ill and his mind is warped by the ring. Sam rescues him when the Orcs capture Frodo. When Frodo wanted to give up, it was Sam who pushed him up and eventually carried him to the heart of Mt Doom.

4. Dr. John Watson- The Sherlock Holmes Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Watson is the legendary sidekick for Sherlock Holmes, the sounding board for his ideas and theories. It is through Watson's eyes that we see Holmes, through a lens of respect and admiration. In most of the stories I've read, Watson doesn't do much to solve the cases, but by just being present, he shows us the nature of Sherlock Holmes and his one minute brooding self-absorption to the next minute agitated whirlwind of activity.

5. Ron and Hermione- Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

At first I was just going to talk about Hermione because she is such a major player in Harry's defeat of Voldemort. She is smart and determined, never letting Harry get away with sitting on his laurels for too long. But, then I couldn't possibly leave out Ron who, while Hermione is the brains of the operation Ron is the heart. He is utterly loyal to Harry, if a bit jealous at times. They both give Harry the family he longs for, but has been missing since the death of his parents.

Even though these characters aren't the main protagonists, they have a major impact on the way the story plays out. Through their interactions with the head honchos, we become more aware of the story as a whole and are more firmly invested in the final outcome.

Who are some of your favorite secondary characters in fiction?

40 comments:

  1. I would say: 1 Samwise Gamgee is number one by a mile
    2. Minnie Jackson from The Help
    3 Kate and Taylor from Fifty Shades of Grey
    4. Ashley and Melanie Wilkes Gone with the Wind
    5. Ron and Hermione Harry Potter series

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  2. Kiersten in "Point of Retreat"
    Haymitch in "The Hunger Games"

    Two of my favs!

    Thanks for hosting this. I love Ron and Hemione -- always will.

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    Replies
    1. Kiersten is a riot, I loved her!
      Our taste is pretty similar, isn't it?!?

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  3. From Facebook: Rachel Maybury: Tex and Daisy from Rock Chicks, Gavin from Seduction and Snacks, Captain Hastings from Poirot and Alice from Twilight :-)

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  4. A great post, Laura! Off the top of my head, I think my fave secondary characters are:

    Lord Akeldama in "The Parasol Protectorate" series by Gail Carriger
    Laurie in "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
    Lula in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
    Aslan in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis
    Willoughby in "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen

    No need to enter me in the giveaway as I am a blog hop participant!

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    Replies
    1. Lord Akeldama is awesome, so is Lula, you really have your thinking cap on Tracie!!

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  5. Eponine -- Les Miserables
    Dobby -- Harry Potter
    Professor McGonagall -- Harry Potter
    Tyson -- Percy Jackson
    Tomnus -- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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    Replies
    1. Great choices, I never read Les Miserables, though. After reading the premise I was a little afraid of the depression, you know?

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  6. Johnny and Dally in The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
    Annabeth and Grover in Percy Jackson (Rick Riordan)
    Lady Frances Catherine in The Secret (Julie Garwood)
    You've got my votes for Ron & Hermione in Harry Potter.
    Hannah & Judith in The Witch Of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare)

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  7. Ilse Burnley and Mr. Carpenter in LM Montgomery's EMILY series
    Havram de Quincy in Rodes Fishburne's GOING TO SEE THE ELEPHANT
    Clover Connelly in Chynna Clugston's BLUE MONDAY series
    Dionysus and Kallie in Dean Hsieh's ATHENA series
    Lenny in Kyle Baker's THE COWBOY WALLY SHOW

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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  8. Ellie - ODS
    Stuart - TMS
    Julia - SLAMMED
    America - BD
    Kate - 50 SHADES

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  9. LOVE your list! Of course, there would be no Harry Potter without his two sidekicks! Also, Randall from Outlander! Woo hoo!

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  10. I love your list and I have racked my brain trying to think of some more outstanding secondary characters and unless I reread a whole lot of books, drew a blank!

    susanmplatt AT hotmail DOT com

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  11. prince charming from a charming crime and a charming cure
    by tonya kappes that cat rocks
    jennfier leblanc
    jenblaney@msn.com

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  12. Cammie- The Opportunist
    Griffin- Thoughtless
    Alice- Twilight
    America- Beautiful Disaster
    Drew- Seductions and Snacks

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    Replies
    1. Alice and America sort of go hand in hand for me- shocking, right? Griffin is hilarious he's such a dirty pig!

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  13. Hmmm
    Griffin from Thoughtless
    Elliot from Fifty Shades
    Kade-Kathleen Turner Series
    Dallas-Stalk Me
    Brandon-Taking Chances
    ahuston24@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. The Kathleen Turner series... I don't know that one, will have to check it out!

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  14. Oh God, I love your list! Harry Potter would have sucked without Ron, Hermione, The Twins, Neville, Luna and Ginny. :) Great post!!

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  15. Secondary characters are usually my favourite!
    Ron and Hermione, for sure. But also Neville and Luna from Harry Potter
    Simon Lewis from TMI
    Serafina from His Dark Materials
    Finnick, Haymitch, and Cinna from The Hunger Games
    Puck and Grimalkin from The Iron Fey series
    Julian from Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

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    Replies
    1. Simon is great, he has that great dry humor I love so much!

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  16. I can't believe I didn't think of this before, but every character in all of Joe Keenan's books are beyond sensational:

    Gilbert - the delusional dreamer who'll do anything for money
    Moira - even more money hungry than Gilbert and she'll mow down anyone who stands in her way
    Holly - the jolly town gossip (the town being Manhattan)
    Freddy Bombelli - Mafia boss otherwise known as "the Pooch" who has a very unusual pastime... (not what you'd think)
    The Champions - thinly disguised caricatures of the Trumps
    Vulpina - I can't even begin to explain this character, but here's how Joe Keenan describes her outfit: "immense brown jodhpurs, a sort of black lace mantilla and a skin-tight white silk tube top. The total effect suggested a teabag in mourning."

    I could just go on forever. All of his characters are hilarious. Wish he'd write more (doesn't release much fiction now that he's a bigshot television producer)

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    Replies
    1. I think I'm so smart, but I have never heard of Joe Keenan OR his books! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. In no particular order:
    - Fermin from The Shadow of the Wind
    - Homer from Tomorrow, When the War Began
    - Prabaker from Shantaram
    - Hermione from Harry Potter
    - Jacob from Twilight

    Quite a mixed bag. Interestingly, only one female!

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    Replies
    1. Hermione wins the Fan Favorite award... coming in a close second is Sam from LOTR :D

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  18. Ron and Hermione, and Dumbledore from Harry Potter, also Alice and Jacob from Twilight saga

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

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  19. Alice from Twilight is another favorite of mine!!

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  20. Some of my faves:

    Eddie frome Slammed
    America from Beautiful Disaster
    Griffin from Thoughtless and Effortless
    Kiersten from Point of Retreat
    Anna from Thoughtless and Effortless

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  21. My favorite sidekick is Cookie from Darynda Jones' Charley Davidson series. She is loveable, funny, and loyal. Thanks for the hop and the chance to win!
    ehaney578 at aol dot com

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  22. I just read the above list and I haven't heard of a lot of them... I LOVE THIS BLOG HOP!!! I'm meeting new authors and being exposed to a whole new world of reading! Hope you hop on over to visit with me, too! See you. xoxo cindy

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  23. Definitely Hermione and Ron! Also Jenks from The Hallows series by Kim Harrison. Thanks for doing this giveaway!

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  24. I loved Suze from Confessions of a Shopaholic... but now that I see a picture of Ron and Hermione, I have to add them to my list of favorites! :)

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  25. Hi Laura,

    No need to enter the giveaway but it is great to hop with you! Your blog is gorgeous. I adore Ron and Hermione, too.

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  26. 1. I definitely agree with Ron and Hermione!
    2. Jenks from the Hallows by Kim Harrison
    3. Grandma Mazur from Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich
    4. I'll agree with others with Annabelle, Granger, and Tyson
    5. How about Vlad and Ian from the Night Huntress World by Jeaniene Frost?

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  27. I love your choice of America from beautiful Disaster! I absolutely loved that book. And I totally second your choice for Watson. He's my ideal secondary character. :)

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  28. Sam from Lord of the Rings is my all time favorite secondary character! Love that you listed him as one of your top five. :)

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  29. I would have to say my favorites are Chris from Lori Foster's Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series and Simi from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!
    cassandrahicks1989@yahoo.com

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  30. Delighted that I found your site, fantastic info. I will bookmark and try to visit more frequently.
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