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Manual - Secondary characters: the figure's role in literature, evolution, archetypes and tips for writers

Updated: 5 days ago


In a dimly lit, historical room, a central protagonist is surrounded by diverse secondary characters in a semi-circle. Each one displays characteristics of literary archetypes: the mentor's wise gaze, an ally's determined posture, the light-heartedness of a comic figure, and the intrigue of a shadowy figure. The mood is intense and the characters' expressions teem with narrative potential.

 

 

Chapter 1: Introduction to secondary characters

1.1 Definition of secondary character and importance in fiction

1.2. Roles and functions of secondary characters

1.3. The historical evolution of secondary characters

1.4. The interaction between main and secondary characters

 

Chapter 2: Archetypes of secondary characters in literature

2.1. The mentor: origin, characteristics and functions

2.2. The ally: types, roles and importance

2.3. The secondary antagonist: differences with the main antagonist and roles

2.4. The comic character: purpose, types and impact on the story

2.5. The shape-shifting character: who he is, how he behaves, and the impact on the story

 

Chapter 3: The creation of memorable secondary characters

3.1. Secondary character characterization and development

3.2. The relationship between secondary character and setting

3.3. Secondary characters and themes of the story

3.4. The use of stereotypes and clichés in the creation of secondary characters

 

Chapter 4: Narrative techniques and secondary characters

4.1. The secondary character's point of view: advantages and challenges

4.2. Secondary characters and narrative structure: subplots and plots

4.3. Dialogues and interactions between secondary and main characters

 

Chapter 5: Final Summary

5.1 The checklist for the secondary character

5.2 Appendix: 10 essays and manuals to read



 


 


Chapter 1: Introduction to secondary characters

1.1 Definition of secondary character and importance in fiction

In the vast landscape of literature, characters occupy a position of primary importance, for they are the originators of the events narrated and the mirrors of human experiences. Among them, the secondary character plays a crucial, if less obvious role than the protagonist.

 

Indeed, its function is to enrich the narrative context, contributing to the progress of the plot and the delineation of the psychological nuances of the main characters.

 

However, the definition of secondary character can be ambiguous, as there is no rigid categorization to determine its identity.

 

In general, a secondary character can be said to be an individual whose presence in the story is not crucial to the resolution of the narrative conflict, but who nonetheless contributes, to varying degrees, to the progress of the story and the characterization of the protagonist.

 

The importance of the secondary character in the literary landscape should not be underestimated, as he or she performs functions of considerable importance within the plot and in the construction of the narrative world. For example, the secondary individual can act as a catalyst for the protagonist's actions or feelings, allowing the reader to delve into the complexity of his or her personality and motivations.

 

In addition, the secondary character may represent an alternative point of view to that of the protagonist, offering a different perspective on the events narrated and contributing to an enrichment of the story. In this way, the author has the opportunity to explore themes and situations that, in the absence of these characters, might be marginal or overlooked.

 

It should also be considered that secondary characters, by virtue of their nature, can be exploited by the author to introduce elements of surprise or to prompt the reader to reflect on issues beyond the simple succession of events. Indeed, they may represent symbols or metaphors for abstract concepts, offering food for thought that enriches the literary value of the work.

 

An additional element of interest in the figure of the secondary character lies in his or her ability to interact with the other individuals in the story, both main and secondary. These interactions can reveal previously unseen aspects of the characters' personalities, shedding light on the dynamics that bind them and, consequently, contributing to the reader's overall understanding of the work.

 

A well-constructed and developed secondary character can also help to make the fictional world more verisimilitude and believability, as his presence enriches the plot with details and nuances that might otherwise be lacking. In this way, the author is able to convey to the reader a coherent and convincing picture of the literary universe in which the story takes place, making the reading experience more compelling and engaging.

 

Despite its non-central position in the story, the secondary character is thus an indispensable element in the construction of a quality literary work. Its importance lies in its ability to offer a broader and more articulate view of the events narrated, to enrich the context in which the main characters move, and to provide insights beyond the mere telling of the plot.

 

In sum, the secondary character represents a complex and multifaceted entity whose presence within the literary work is of fundamental importance for its artistic and cultural value. Its analysis, therefore, constitutes an essential area of inquiry for literary scholars and fiction enthusiasts, as it enables them to fully understand the dynamics underlying the creation of a work and to grasp the nuances that make it a unique and inimitable product.

 

 

 

 

 

1.2 Roles and functions of secondary characters

In the complex architecture of a literary work, secondary characters assume a wide range of roles and functions that, while not crucial to the resolution of the narrative conflict, contribute significantly to the evolution of the plot and the characterization of the main individuals.

 

Indeed, the presence of these characters is crucial for understanding the internal dynamics of the work and for enhancing the themes addressed by the author.

 

One of the main functions of the secondary character is to act as a counterpoint to the protagonist, highlighting his qualities and flaws through constant confrontation and deep interaction. This role allows the reader to grasp the facets of the main character's personality and to understand the mechanisms that guide his or her actions, providing a more nuanced and truthful view of the events narrated.

 

In addition, secondary characters can act as catalysts for the events that unfold in the course of the story, triggering chain reactions that directly or indirectly involve the protagonist and other individuals in the narrative. In this way, they help to make the plot more dynamic and compelling, keeping the reader's attention alive and arousing in him or her an abiding interest in the unfolding events.

 

Another relevant aspect concerns the symbolic and metaphorical function of secondary characters, who may represent ideas, concepts or values that transcend their mere individual identity. Through their presence and actions, they offer insights that enrich the meaning of the work, inviting the reader to question ethical, philosophical or social issues rooted in human reality.

 

The figure of the secondary character can also serve a mediating function between the protagonist and the context in which the narrative takes place, allowing the author to explore the dynamics that bind individuals to their cultural, historical and geographical roots. In this way, the literary work acquires a deeper and more layered dimension, reflecting the complexity of human relationships and the richness of life experiences.

 

In constructing a secondary character, the author may choose to attribute special or peculiar characteristics to these individuals that make them unique and easily recognizable. These peculiarities may relate to both physical and psychological aspects, and they help to give the work a distinctive and original imprint, which enhances its artistic value and makes it memorable in the eyes of the reader.

 

However, it is important to emphasize that the function of secondary characters is not limited to mere characterization or symbolic representation, but also extends to the narrative structure of the work and the various techniques used by the author to build the plot and develop themes. Indeed, secondary characters can be employed to introduce subplots, plots, and twists that enrich the story and make it more complex and compelling.

 

For example, a secondary character might act as a revealer of secrets or as a bearer of information crucial to the progress of the story, helping to create narrative tension and maintain the reader's interest.

 

In addition, their presence can offer the author an opportunity to experiment with different writing styles and explore new forms of expression, which give the work greater originality and depth.

 

A further function of secondary characters concerns their ability to act as mirrors of the reader's emotions and reactions to the narrated events. Through their empathy, their emotional involvement, and their responses to different stimuli, they provide a reference point that enables the reader to identify with the story and experience the events in a more intense and personal way.

 

Finally, it is important to consider that secondary characters can take on different roles depending on the literary genre in which they are placed and the specific narrative needs of the author. In this sense, they represent an extremely flexible and versatile element that can be shaped and adapted to the different situations and themes addressed in the work.

 

Secondary characters play a critically important role in fiction, often underestimated by those approaching fiction writing for the first time, as they contribute significantly to the evolution of the plot, the characterization of the main characters, and the development of the work's themes.

 

Their presence enriches the story with nuances and details that enhance its artistic and cultural value, offering the reader a more compelling and engaging reading experience. Their analysis and study, therefore, constitute an essential area of inquiry for literary scholars and fiction enthusiasts, as they enable them to understand the dynamics underlying the creation of a work and to grasp the nuances that make it a unique and inimitable product.

 

1.3 The historical evolution of secondary characters

Throughout the history of literature, the importance attached to secondary characters has undergone significant transformations, in parallel with changes in public tastes and artistic and cultural trends.

 

This evolution has led to a gradual valorization of these individuals and the recognition of their crucial role in the construction of the literary work and the communication of the author's themes and messages.

 

In the works of classical antiquity, secondary characters were often employed as side elements, useful to enhance the virtues and deeds of the heroes and to provide historical and mythological context to the narrative. During this period, literature was heavily centered on the figure of the protagonist, while secondary individuals assumed a marginal and subordinate role, often tied to specific functions such as helping the protagonist or depicting vices and virtues.

 

With the passage of time, however, the attention of authors and critics gradually shifted toward a greater emphasis on secondary characters and their functions within the work. In the Middle Ages, for example, chivalric and courtly literature gave space to a wide range of individuals who, while not playing central roles in the story, contributed significantly to the complexity of events and the creation of a rich and multifaceted narrative world.

 

With the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of the modern novel, the figure of the secondary character gained even greater importance due to the authors' desire to explore in depth human nature and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. In this period, secondary characters began to be used as tools to deepen the psychology of the protagonists, to highlight the contradictions and ambiguities of existence, and to offer a broader and more articulate view of reality.

 

In the course of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, the focus on secondary characters grew further, thanks to the establishment of a narrative model centered on the representation of the individual and his or her emotional and intellectual experiences. In this context, secondary individuals took on increasingly varied and articulated functions, moving from the role of mere comprimarios to that of protagonists in subplots and plots that enriched the story and increased its complexity.

 

With the advent of Realism and Naturalism, interest in secondary characters further increased, as these individuals were used by authors to analyze the social dynamics and power structures that influenced the lives of individuals. During this period, the figure of the secondary character became fundamental to the construction of a literary work that aspired to represent reality in its complexity and nuances, offering a broader and more veracious overview of human affairs.

 

In the 20th century, the focus on secondary characters reached its peak with the emergence of literary currents such as Modernism and Postmodernism, which challenged traditional narrative models and gave ample room for experimentation and stylistic innovation. In this context, the figure of the secondary character was further enhanced and enriched, thanks to the authors' willingness to explore new approaches to storytelling and investigate the mechanisms underlying the creation of the literary work.

 

In particular, secondary characters have been employed as tools to question the boundaries between reality and fiction, subjectivity and objectivity, and to reflect on the very nature of the creative process. In doing so, they have taken on increasingly complex and multifaceted functions, ranging from the representation of abstract ideas and concepts to the creation of imaginary worlds that challenge conventions and reader expectations.

 

In the contemporary era, the figure of the secondary character continues to play a prominent role in literature, thanks to the growing awareness of authors and critics of the importance of these individuals in understanding the internal dynamics of the work and in enhancing the themes addressed. In this period, secondary characters are employed in a wide variety of roles and functions, ranging from the representation of social groups and cultural minorities to the construction of plots and plotlines that reflect the challenges and contradictions of the contemporary world.

 

In sum, the historical evolution of secondary characters testifies to the importance of these individuals in the literature and culture of every era, and emphasizes their fundamental role in the construction of the literary work and in communicating the author's themes and messages.

 

Their presence and enhancement over the centuries reflect changing artistic trends and narrative needs, and offer a valuable opportunity to analyze the transformation of literature and its relationship with human reality.

 

Their analysis and study is, therefore, an essential area of inquiry for literary scholars and narrative enthusiasts, as it enables them to grasp the nuances that characterize the evolution of the art of storytelling and to understand the dynamics that have driven its transformation over time.

 

1.4 The interaction between main and secondary characters

In the field of literature, the interaction between main and secondary characters is of fundamental importance, as it constitutes one of the key elements of narrative construction and the creation of an engaging and meaningful literary work. Through the relationships established between the various individuals who populate the world of the story, the author is able to explore a multiplicity of themes and issues, and offer the reader an articulate and multifaceted view of human reality.

 

The modes of interaction between main and secondary characters can vary widely depending on the narrative needs of the author and the literary genre in which the work is set. However, it is possible to identify some recurring dynamics that characterize the relationship between these individuals and help define the artistic and cultural value of the work.

 

One of the main functions of the interaction between main and secondary characters concerns deepening the characterization of individuals and highlighting their motivations, desires, and fears.

 

Through confrontation and dialogue with secondary characters, the protagonist of the story is forced to confront himself and others, to question his own certainties and to seek new solutions to the problems that plague him. In this way, the author can explore the psychology of his characters in depth and offer the reader a more truthful and convincing portrayal of human nature.

 

Another crucial function of the interaction between main and secondary characters relates to creating narrative tension and establishing the plot of the work. Through the relationships established between the various individuals, the author is able to generate conflicts, twists and unexpected turns that make the story more compelling and engaging.

 

In addition, the coming together of main and secondary characters can give rise to subplots and plots that enrich the narrative and increase its complexity, giving the reader a broader and more nuanced view of the world depicted.

 

The interaction between main and secondary characters also plays a key role in communicating the author's themes and messages. Through the relationships that develop between the various individuals, the author can express his or her thoughts and opinions on social, political, cultural or existential issues, and invite the reader to confront these issues and draw his or her own conclusions. In this sense, the interaction between main and secondary characters is a prime vehicle for the transmission of ideas and values, and helps to define the ultimate meaning of the work.

 

Moreover, the interaction between main and secondary characters can take on symbolic and metaphorical value, as through the relationships between individuals the author can represent the contrasts and tensions that characterize human and social reality.

 

The dynamics between the characters can be used to explore themes such as the conflict between individual and society, tradition and innovation, reason and passion, and to offer the reader a deeper and more articulate view of the challenges and contradictions of existence.

 

A further aspect of the interaction between main and secondary characters concerns the latter's function as a mirror or counterbalance to the protagonist. Through confrontation with secondary characters, the protagonist is able to focus on his own qualities and flaws, to identify his own strengths and weaknesses, and to better understand his own identity and role within the story. In this way, the author can emphasize the main character's peculiarities and give the reader a more complete and articulate view of his personality and his path of growth and evolution.

 

Finally, the interaction between main and secondary characters can be used by the author to experiment with new forms of storytelling and to challenge traditional literary models. Through the encounter and confrontation between the various individuals, the author can explore new ways of representing reality, investigating human psychology, and analyzing social and cultural dynamics.

 

In this sense, the interaction between main and secondary characters provides fertile ground for stylistic and thematic innovation and the creation of literary works that challenge conventions and reader expectations.

 

In conclusion, the interaction between main and secondary characters is one of the central aspects of narrative construction and the creation of a valuable literary work. Through the relationships established between the various individuals, the author is able to explore a multiplicity of themes and problems, deepen the characterization of the characters, and offer the reader a richer and more multifaceted view of human and social reality.

 

Understanding and analyzing these dynamics is, therefore, an essential area of inquiry for literary scholars and fiction enthusiasts, as it allows them to grasp the nuances and specifics of the creative process and to understand the strategies and techniques employed by the author in the construction of the work.

 

Chapter 2: Archetypes of secondary characters in literature

2.1 The mentor: origin, characteristics and main functions

In the landscape of literature, the mentor is a secondary character of particular relevance, whose figure has its roots in the classical and mythological tradition and has since evolved over the centuries, assuming a central role in many fictional works from different genres and historical periods.

 

The figure of the mentor is characterized by a number of distinctive traits and specific functions, making him or her a key element in the construction of the work and in defining the protagonist's path of growth and development.

 

The origin of the figure of the mentor can be traced to Greek mythology, particularly the character of Mentor, Odysseus' friend and advisor in Homer's Odyssey. In this context, Mentor assumes the role of guide and support for the young Telemachus as he seeks to discover the truth about his father's fate and face the difficulties and pitfalls that await him on his journey.

 

From this classic archetype, the figure of the mentor has since spread throughout literature of all times and cultures, taking on different forms and characteristics, but always maintaining its fundamental role as advisor and spiritual guide for the protagonist.

 

One of the main characteristics of the mentor is his wisdom and in-depth knowledge of reality, enabling him to offer the protagonist valuable advice and help him better understand himself and the world around him.

 

In many cases, the mentor is a senior or experienced character who has experienced significant events and gained a broader and more articulate perspective on life. Through this experience, the mentor is able to provide the protagonist with the necessary tools and knowledge to face the challenges ahead and to overcome the obstacles that stand in his or her way.

 

Another hallmark of the mentor is his ability to stimulate the growth and development of the protagonist, both personally and in terms of his skills and competencies.

 

Through the confrontation with the mentor, the protagonist is forced to question his own certainties, reconsider his values, and seek new solutions to the problems that plague him. In this way, the mentor acts as a catalyst for the protagonist's maturation process and pushes him to evolve and transform throughout the story.

 

The figure of the mentor can also take on a symbolic and metaphorical role, as he or she represents the embodiment of values and ideals that provide a reference point for the protagonist and the reader. In this sense, the mentor can be interpreted as the personification of wisdom, justice, compassion, or heroism, and can act as a mirror for the protagonist, allowing him to confront these values and aspire to achieve them in his own path of growth.

 

In literature, there are numerous secondary characters who have played the role of the mentor, each with their own peculiarities and nuances. Among them, we can mention:

 

Albus Dumbledore in "Harry Potter" (J.K. Rowling's series of novels): Dumbledore is the principal of Hogwarts School of Magic and is a key reference point for the young protagonist, Harry Potter. Through his wisdom and experience, Dumbledore helps Harry better understand the magical world and develop his skills, guiding him in his fight against evil. The analysis of this character can be useful for the beginning writer, as it highlights how a mentor can be both a complex and multifaceted character, capable of arousing empathy in the reader and enriching the plot of the story.

 

Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" (J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy of novels): Gandalf, the wandering wizard, is a key mentor to Frodo Baggins and the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring on their epic journey to destroy the Ring of Power. The figure of Gandalf represents the embodiment of wisdom and moral strength, and through his intervention he helps the characters overcome the many difficulties they encounter on their journey. His analysis can help the beginning writer understand the importance of a mentor who is a guide both practically and morally, and who is able to inspire and motivate the characters throughout the narrative.

 

Haymitch Abernathy in "The Hunger Games" (novel series by Suzanne Collins): Haymitch, a previous winner of the Hunger Games, takes on the role of mentor for protagonists Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, helping them to survive and leverage their resources in the fight against the oppressive system that dominates them. Despite being a troubled and complex character, Haymitch is able to offer the protagonists valuable advice and stimulate their personal and political growth. The study of this character can offer interesting insights for the beginning writer, especially in terms of creating a mentor who is unconventional and can escape the stereotypes of the genre.

 

Jean Valjean in "Les Misérables" (Victor Hugo's novel): Jean Valjean, the novel's protagonist, also becomes a mentor to young Cosette, an orphan girl whom he adopts and protects. Through his figure, Jean Valjean transmits values such as love, generosity and courage to Cosette, helping her overcome adversity and become a strong and independent woman. The analysis of this character can be particularly challenging for the beginning writer, as it shows how a protagonist can also play the role of mentor to another character and how this relationship can enrich the narrative and contribute to the emotional development of the characters involved.

 

The figure of the mentor in literature is of crucial importance to the growth and maturation process of the protagonists, offering them advice and support throughout their adventures and challenges.

 

Analysis of secondary characters who have played this role, in works of different genres and historical periods, can offer valuable insights for the beginning writer, who can draw inspiration from these examples to create nuanced secondary characters capable of enriching the plot and meaning of his or her story.

 

Studying the complexity and depth of literary mentors can, therefore, be a formative and enriching experience for anyone venturing into the world of creative writing.

 

2.2 The ally: types, roles and importance

In the context of fiction, the secondary character of the ally plays a role of considerable importance, contributing to the evolution of the plot and the process of growth and maturation of the protagonist. The ally, in fact, is a character who stands up for the protagonist, offering him support, protection and companionship at various stages of the story and in the challenges he faces.

 

The figure of the ally has many facets and can take different forms and functions, depending on the narrative needs and the characteristics of the characters involved.

 

The archetype of the ally has its roots in mythological and legendary traditions, where the protagonist is often joined by a companion or helper in his or her heroic endeavors. In these narratives, the ally can be a complement to the protagonist, providing qualities and skills that the latter lacks, or can serve as a counterpoint, highlighting the more human and vulnerable aspects of the protagonist.

 

In modern literature, the figure of the ally has been enriched and diversified, giving rise to a wide range of secondary characters who interact with the protagonist in different ways and perform specific functions within the story.

 

One of the most common types of ally is the character who offers emotional support to the protagonist, sharing joys and sorrows with him, and encouraging him to overcome the obstacles he encounters on his path.

 

This type of ally can be a friend, relative, lover, or mentor, and his or her presence in the story helps create a sense of solidarity and affection among the characters, making the plot more engaging and exciting for the reader.

 

Another type of ally is the character who provides concrete and tangible help to the protagonist by putting his or her skills, knowledge, or resources at his or her disposal to deal with difficulties and solve problems that arise.

 

This type of ally can be an expert in a particular field, a valiant warrior, a creative genius, or a wise advisor, and his or her intervention in the story can be a crucial moment for the protagonist's success and for the development of the narrative plot.

 

An additional type of ally is that of the character who acts as a catalyst for the protagonist's transformation and evolution, prompting him to question his own values, beliefs, and habits, and to embark on a path of change and growth.

 

In this case, the ally may be a rival, an adversary, an ambiguous character or an antagonist who, through confrontation and clash with the protagonist, stimulates in him a deep reflection on himself and the world around him, causing him to evolve and mature as an individual.

 

In literature, there are many secondary characters who have played the role of the ally, each with their own specificities and peculiarities. Below, we illustrate four significant examples:

 

Samwise Gamgee in "The Lord of the Rings" (trilogy of novels by J.R.R. Tolkien): Sam is a loyal and courageous ally of Frodo Baggins on his epic journey to destroy the Ring of Power. His loyalty and steadfast support enable Frodo to overcome the difficulties and temptations he encounters on his journey. Analysis of this character can be useful for the beginning writer to understand the importance of friendship and solidarity in the context of a heroic adventure and to create secondary characters who are able to elicit empathy from the reader.

 

Dr. John Watson in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (collection of short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle): Watson is the trusted friend and collaborator of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Although less skilled and brilliant than the protagonist, Watson makes a vital contribution to the investigation, offering Holmes a different point of view and highlighting his extraordinary deductive skills. Watson's analysis may offer interesting insights for the beginning writer regarding the creation of an ally who complements the protagonist and contributes to the dynamism of the narrative.

 

Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" (play by William Shakespeare): Mercutio is an outgoing and witty character, Romeo's friend and a member of the Montague family. His impetuous temperament and loyalty to the protagonist lead him to a tragic fate, which marks a crucial turning point in the plot of the tragedy. Mercutio's analysis can be illuminating for the beginning writer, as it shows how a secondary character can have a significant impact on the story and fate of the protagonists, as well as on the reader's emotions.

 

Sancho Panza in "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha" (novel by Miguel de Cervantes): Sancho is the faithful squire of Don Quixote, the idealistic knight-errant who fights windmills. Although more realistic and concrete than his master, Sancho gets involved in his adventures, offering him support and companionship. The analysis of this character can offer valuable lessons for the beginning writer, as it highlights how an ally can be a counterpoint to the protagonist and help make the narrative dynamics more complex and nuanced.

 

2.3 The secondary antagonist: differences with the main antagonist and roles

In fiction, it is crucial not to underestimate the importance of secondary characters who act as antagonists. They play a crucial role in giving shape and depth to the plot, creating conflicts, tensions and dynamics that engage the reader and make the story compelling.

 

The secondary antagonist, in particular, is a character who contrasts with the protagonist and the other main characters, but in a different way from the main antagonist. His presence in the plot can add nuance and complexity to the events narrated, enriching the story and offering interesting insights into character development.

 

The figure of the secondary antagonist differs from the main antagonist in several respects. First, his role in the story is, by definition, less central and less predominant than that of the main antagonist.

 

While the latter represents the main opposition to the protagonist, embodying the evil, conflict or obstacle that the main character must face and overcome, the secondary antagonist acts in a more nuanced and indirect way, helping to create additional layers of tension and conflict within the plot.

 

Moreover, the secondary antagonist may have a wider range of motivations and goals than the main antagonist. While the latter often pursues a well-defined and recognizable goal that is directly opposed to that of the protagonist, the secondary antagonist may act for more ambiguous, complex, or contradictory reasons that are not always immediately apparent.

 

This feature allows the writer to explore more multifaceted and intriguing aspects of human nature and character relationships, enriching the story and engaging the reader more.

 

The origins of the figure of the secondary antagonist can be traced to mythological, legendary, and literary traditions, where it is possible to identify characters who act as enemies, rivals, or adversaries of the protagonist, but who do not represent the main threat or the greatest obstacle to be overcome.

 

In modern literature, the secondary antagonist has taken on different forms and functions, depending on the genres, contexts and themes covered.

 

One of the most important functions of the secondary antagonist is to create conflict and tension within the story, challenging the protagonist and the other main characters and forcing them to confront their own fears, doubts, and weaknesses.

 

The secondary antagonist may represent an external or internal threat, an open or hidden enemy, a rival who acts deviously or brazenly.

 

In any case, its presence in the plot helps to make the story more dynamic, engaging and unpredictable, stimulating the reader to think about the issues involved and the complexity of the relationships between the characters.

 

Below, four emblematic examples of secondary antagonists from the literature will be presented:

 

Iago in "Othello" (play by William Shakespeare): although Iago can be considered a main antagonist, his position as Othello's underling also positions him as a secondary antagonist. Iago is a devious and manipulative character whose hatred and envy of Othello drive him to hatch an intricate and ruthless plan of revenge. Analyzing Iago can offer useful insights for the beginning writer on creating cunning and ambiguous characters who act in the shadows and influence the events of the story indirectly and unpredictably.

 

Miss Havisham in "Great Expectations" (novel by Charles Dickens): Miss Havisham is an old woman who lives in isolation, consumed by resentment and revenge against the men who have hurt her in the past. Although she is not the main antagonist, her influence on Estella and Pip contributes to the creation of tension and conflict in the story. Miss Havisham's analysis can help the beginning writer understand how a secondary antagonist can have a profound impact on the protagonists, acting as a catalyst for their growth and transformation.

 

Bob Ewell in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (novel by Harper Lee): Bob Ewell is a mean and violent character who embodies the racism and poverty of the society in which the story is set. Although he is not the main antagonist, his presence in the plot helps exacerbate the conflicts and tensions between the characters. Bob Ewell's analysis can be useful for the beginning writer to understand how to create secondary antagonists who embody the evils and prejudices present in society, offering insights into the social and moral issues addressed in the story.

 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in "Hamlet" (William Shakespeare's play): these two characters, childhood friends of Hamlet, become tools in the hands of King Claudius to spy on and manipulate the protagonist. Although they are not the main antagonists, their presence in the plot contributes to further tension and suspicion, highlighting the complexity of the relationships between the characters and the pervasiveness of corruption and betrayal in the court of Elsinore. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's analysis can offer interesting insights for the beginning writer regarding the creation of secondary antagonists who act as pawns in a larger power game, testing the loyalty and trust between characters and stimulating the reader to reflect on the dynamics of power and manipulation present in the story.

 

Ultimately, the secondary antagonist is an essential figure within the narrative, capable of adding additional layers of complexity and interest to the plot and contributing to the development of the main characters.

 

For those new to fiction writing, analyzing and understanding the various roles, functions, and characteristics of the secondary antagonist can provide a valuable tool to enrich one's story and create a more compelling and engaging narrative.

 

Through the exploration of the motivations, conflicts, and ambiguities that characterize these secondary antagonists, the writer can deepen the relational dynamics among the characters and reflect on human nature, its dark sides, and the mechanisms that drive individuals to act selfishly, vindictively, or malevolently.

 

At the same time, the writer can experiment with different narrative techniques to make the secondary antagonist a memorable and intriguing character who captures the reader's attention and prompts him to question his actions and choices.

 

In addition, the secondary antagonist can provide an opportunity to explore social, political, and cultural issues that characterize the context in which the story is set, highlighting the contradictions, tensions, and conflicts that animate a particular era or society.

 

In this way, the debut writer can enrich his or her narrative with food for thought that goes beyond the mere personal stories of the characters, stimulating the reader to question the broader and more universal issues that the story proposes.

 

Finally, the figure of the secondary antagonist can be a challenge and an opportunity from the point of view of the construction and development of the character itself.

 

Creating a compelling and well-delineated secondary antagonist requires a deep understanding of his or her motivations, fears and aspirations, as well as careful analysis of his or her actions and relationships with other characters. In this process, the writer can learn to wield the tools of storytelling with greater awareness and mastery, honing his or her ability to tell compelling and meaningful stories that leave a mark on the reader's heart and mind.

 

2.4 The comic character: purpose, types and impact on the story

In the wide range of figures that populate the world of fiction, the comic character occupies a prominent place due to its peculiar function of conveying a sense of humor and offering an ironic and detached view of reality.

 

Through his or her intervention in the plot, the comic character helps create a balance between the serious and the facetious, providing the reader with moments of amusement and reflection that enrich the reading experience and stimulate greater emotional and intellectual participation.

 

To fully understand the importance and role of the comic character in fiction, it is necessary to examine its characteristics and origins, as well as the different types and functions it can assume within the story.

 

In this way, the most significant and interesting aspects of this figure can be grasped, and the impact it can have on the plot and the reader's involvement can be assessed.

 

The roots of the comic character go back to the theatrical traditions of antiquity, particularly Greek and Roman comedy, where actors and masks represented humorous and caricatured types who embodied the vices, weaknesses and contradictions of the society of the time.

 

In later eras, the figure of the comic character evolved and diversified, taking on distinctive forms and characteristics in various literary genres and contexts, from the jesters and buffoons of medieval and Renaissance theater to the satirical and picaresque characters of modern fiction.

 

Among the main characteristics of the comic character are sharp wit, quick wit, and the ability to grasp the most comic and paradoxical aspects of reality. Through these gifts, the comic character is able to expose the hypocrisies, inconsistencies and falsehoods that permeate society and human behavior, offering the reader a critical and irreverent perspective that stimulates reflection and self-awareness.

 

Moreover, the comic character can serve as a counterpoint and outlet to the tensions and conflicts that animate the plot, allowing the reader to relax and enjoy moments of fun and escapism.

 

Depending on the specific needs and purposes of the story, the comic character may take on different types and functions, varying in personality traits, situations and themes.

 

For example, the comic character may be a protagonist or a secondary character, an ally or an antagonist, a narrator or an outside observer. In any case, his or her presence in the plot helps to create an atmosphere of lightness and liveliness, which contrasts with the more dramatic and serious tones of the other characters and the events narrated.

 

The following are four emblematic examples of comic characters from famous novels, useful for the beginning writer in analyzing this role:

 

Sancho Panza in "Don Quixote" (a novel by Miguel de Cervantes): Sancho Panza is Don Quixote's faithful squire, a simple and good-natured character who represents practical sense and realism as opposed to the idealism and madness of the protagonist.

 

Through his comic intervention and wise and biting reflections, Sancho Panza offers the reader a humorous and disenchanted perspective on reality, stimulating reflection on the themes of illusion and truth.

 

Analysis of this character can be useful for the beginning writer to understand how to use humor and satire to convey social and philosophical critique.

 

Mr. Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice" (novel by Jane Austen): Mr. Bennet is the father of the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet, a sarcastic and ironic man who observes with detachment and disenchantment the amorous and social vicissitudes of his daughters and the society in which they live. Through his comic vein and caustic intelligence, Mr. Bennet highlights the most ridiculous and contradictory aspects of the mentality and behavior of the time, offering the reader a critical and entertaining view of the world.

 

The beginning writer can draw interesting insights from the analysis of this character to create humorous figures that point out the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of society and its values.

 

Mr. Micawber in "David Copperfield" (novel by Charles Dickens): Mr. Micawber is an eccentric and buffoonish character who embodies the optimistic and dreamy spirit of the Victorian era. Despite his constant financial misfortunes and bizarre ventures, Mr. Micawber maintains a positive and confident attitude, demonstrating great adaptability and resilience.

 

Analysis of this character can offer useful insights into the creation of comic characters who represent the human and vulnerable side of reality, offering the reader a model of courage and hope.

 

Ignatius J. Reilly in "A Confederacy of Dunces" (novel by John Kennedy Toole): Ignatius J. Reilly is the protagonist of this satirical novel, a neurotic and irascible young man who clashes with the world around him because of his bizarre ideas and outlandish behavior. Through his comic vicissitudes and caustic reflections, Ignatius J. Reilly highlights the most paradoxical and absurd aspects of modern society, offering the reader an opportunity to reflect on and critique the conventions and prejudices that characterize its culture and values.

 

The writer can draw inspiration from the analysis of this character to create comic figures that are both original and representative of the conflicts and contradictions of the contemporary world.

 

An examination of these four comic characters can offer valuable insights and suggestions for understanding and enhancing the role of the comic character in fiction. Through observing the different types and functions that these characters can assume within the plot, the writer can learn how to use humor and satire to enrich his or her story and to stimulate the reader's reflection and empathy.

 

In addition, analysis of these characters can help develop a greater awareness of the potential and challenges involved in creating a comic character, both from the standpoint of characterization and character development and from the standpoint of consistency and balance of plot and narrative tone.

 

In this way, those who approach fiction will be able to acquire the tools and skills necessary to bring to life memorable and meaningful comic figures that are able to leave a lasting impression on the reader's mind and heart and enrich the reader's understanding and appreciation of the work as a whole.

 

2.5. The shape-shifting character: who he is, how he behaves, and the impact on the story

The shape-shifting character, also known as the "shape-shifter" or "shifter," represents a narrative archetype of great interest and complexity, which has ancient origins and has developed into various forms and variations throughout the history of literature and human culture.

 

The term "shapeshifter" derives from the ability of these characters to change their physical appearance, taking on different identities and appearances, whether human, animal or fantastical, in order to adapt to different situations and contexts, or to pursue specific goals.

 

In a broader sense, the concept of shape-shifters can be extended to all those characters who present an ambivalent and ambiguous nature, oscillating between different psychological, moral or social polarities and dimensions, and constantly challenging the certainties and expectations of the reader and other characters. In this sense, the shape-shifting character can be seen as a catalyst for change and evolution, both in the plot and in the structure and themes of the narrative work.

 

One of the most fascinating and challenging characteristics of the shape-shifting character is his unpredictability and his ability to surprise and destabilize established narrative and interpretive patterns.

 

Through his metamorphoses and transformations, the shape-shifting character sheds light on the contradictions and tensions inherent in human nature and interpersonal relationships, exploring the shadowy areas and hidden potentials of the individual and society.

 

In this way, the shape-shifting character acts as a disruptive and renewing element, stimulating the reader's curiosity and imagination and opening up new perspectives and horizons of meaning.

 

From the point of view of shifter character construction and development, it is essential to strike a balance between the multiplicity and consistency of the shifter's identities and behaviors, so as to avoid the fragmenting and superficial effect that might result from the excessive variability and mutability of the character.

 

In other words, it is important that the different manifestations and faces of the shape-shifting character be integrated and harmonized within a complex and articulate personality that reflects the nuances and contradictions of the human condition and is able to evolve and grow over the course of the story.

 

The impact of the shape-shifting character on the plot and atmosphere of the fictional work can be manifold and varied, depending on the author's choices and intentions and the cultural and literary context in which he or she fits.

 

In some cases, the shape-shifting character may take on a role as an antagonist or provocateur, generating conflicts and tensions that fuel the action and dynamism of the story. In other cases, the shape-shifting character may function as a mediator or intermediary between different cultures, eras, or realities, helping to create bridges and dialogues between seemingly incompatible or distant worlds.

 

To illustrate the wide variety and relevance of the shape-shifting character in nonfiction literature, four emblematic examples can be cited from works by different authors and from different cultural traditions:

 

Fyodor Dostoevsky - "Zapiski iz podpol'ja" (notes from underground)

The protagonist of this philosophical novel, the anonymous narrator known as the Underground Man, is an example of a shape-shifting character in his moral, psychological and ideological ambivalence. His continuous oscillation between cynicism and idealism, self-analysis and self-deception, offers valuable insights into the creation of complex and contradictory characters who defy convention and the reader's expectations.

 

Gustave Flaubert - "Madame Bovary"

Rodolphe Boulanger, Emma Bovary's lover, can be considered a shape-shifter because of his ability to seduce and manipulate the protagonist through various masks and roles. The analysis of this character can offer important lessons on the creation of secondary characters who interact significantly and dynamically with the protagonists, influencing their fate and evolution.

 

Virginia Woolf - "Mrs. Dalloway"

Peter Walsh, a longtime friend and unrequited lover of protagonist Clarissa Dalloway, is an example of a shape-shifting character in his ability to reflect and reframe past and present experiences and emotions, offering the reader a different and complementary perspective on the protagonists' lives and choices. Writers can draw inspiration from this character to develop secondary characters that enrich and deepen the meaning and complexity of the work.

 

Gabriel García Márquez - "Cien años de soledad" (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

Pietro Crespi, the elegant and charming Italian musician who settles in Macondo and becomes the object of desire and competition among the Buendía sisters, is a shape-shifting character in his ability to embody and symbolize the dreams, ambitions, and failures of successive generations. The figure of Pietro Crespi can teach how to create secondary characters who act as catalysts and mirrors of family and social dynamics, contributing to the cohesion and depth of the work.

 

In conclusion, the shape-shifting character archetype offers a wide range of possibilities and challenges in the construction and development of secondary characters that are able to stimulate and enrich the plot, themes, and atmosphere of the narrative work.

 

By analyzing and appropriating the characteristics, origins and functions of the shape-shifting character, authors can explore new dimensions and perspectives of the human condition, challenge literary and cultural conventions and stereotypes, and contribute to the renewal and vitality of the universal literary heritage.

 

It is important to note that the analysis of these shape-shifting secondary characters can be of great benefit because it provides a guide to developing intriguing and dynamic secondary characters who interact meaningfully with the protagonists, enriching the narrative and context of the work.

 

In addition, the ability to create shape-shifting and ambiguous characters allows writers to play with readers' expectations, maintaining interest and curiosity throughout the story. Studying these literary examples and understanding the various techniques used to develop shape-shifting characters can help beginning writers improve their storytelling skills and create deeper, more engaging literary works.

 

 

Chapter 3: The creation of memorable secondary characters

3.1. Secondary character characterization and development

The characterization and development of secondary characters are crucial elements in the construction of a quality work of fiction. They help create a compelling plot and give depth and nuance to the story.

 

To draw a good secondary character, the writer must take into account various aspects, including psychology, physicality, social context, and narrative function. In addition, it is important to fit the character into the plot effectively and build a story arc that shows the character's evolution and dynamism.

 

The first element to consider is the psychology of the secondary character. The writer must give the character a well-defined personality with desires, fears, ambitions and internal conflicts. This allows the reader to identify with the character and understand his or her motivations and actions. In addition, the secondary character's personality must be consistent with his role in the story and with the other characters with whom he interacts.

 

The physicality of the character is another key aspect. The writer must provide a clear and vivid description of the character's outward appearance, using significant details that reveal the character's character and personality. For example, clothing, physical appearance and posture can reveal much about the character's social status, emotions and intentions. Physicality can also be used to create contrasts and tensions between characters and to emphasize the differences between them.

 

The social context in which the secondary character moves is an important element to consider. The writer must explore the character's relationships with other characters, his environment, and the society in which he lives. This helps create a realistic and believable setting in which the character can act and interact with others. In addition, the social context can influence the character's choices and actions by highlighting the cultural values and norms that guide him or her.

 

The narrative function of the secondary character is a crucial aspect to keep in mind. The writer must reflect on what role the character plays in the story and how he or she contributes to its unfolding. The character can have a function of supporting the protagonist, antagonist, mentor, ally, etc. It is important that the secondary character has a clear and well-defined function so that he or she does not become a superfluous or insignificant element in the plot.

 

To insert the secondary character into the story effectively, the writer must strike the right balance between his presence and absence.

 

The character must be present enough to have an impact on the plot and development of the main characters, but not so much that it steals the scene or distracts the reader from the main character.

 

In addition, it is important that the secondary character be introduced naturally and organically, avoiding forced or arbitrary insertion into the story. Consistency and fluidity are essential to maintain the reader's interest and to ensure that the secondary character fits harmoniously into the plot.

 

The narrative arc of the secondary character is another key element to consider. The writer must show the character's evolution over the course of the story, both internally and in his or her relationships with other characters. This allows for dynamism and depth to the character, making him or her appear as an individual in continuous transformation and growth. The story arc can be connected to that of the protagonist, but it must also have its own autonomy and specificity, so as to emphasize the uniqueness and importance of the secondary character.

 

In summary, to draw a good secondary character, the writer must take into account various elements, including psychology, physicality, social context, and narrative function.

 

In addition, it is important to fit the character into the plot effectively and build a narrative arc that shows their evolution and dynamism. Mastery of these aspects enables the creation of memorable and engaging secondary characters that enrich the plot and contribute to a quality narrative work.

 

Attention to detail and care in the construction of secondary characters are hallmarks of a competent and passionate writer, capable of capturing the reader's interest and leading him to reflect on the nuances and complexities of the fictional world he has created.

 

3.2. The relationship between secondary character and setting

The context in which secondary characters move is of crucial importance in defining their role within the narrative and delineating how they interact with other characters and the plot.

 

Through careful analysis of the connection between these characters and the setting, it is possible to better understand the narrative dynamics and offer the reader a more articulate and profound view of the literary work.

 

First, it is crucial to consider how the secondary character is influenced by his or her surroundings and the historical, social, and cultural conditions in which he or she finds himself or herself. These factors can determine the character's choices, actions, and motivations, helping to delineate his or her personality and how he or she acts within the story.

 

At the same time, the setting can offer the secondary character an opportunity to showcase his or her skills, knowledge and abilities, allowing the writer to enrich the plot and bring out new aspects and facets of the character.

 

Another key element to consider concerns the relationship between the secondary character and the physical space in which the narrative takes place. This interaction can be analyzed at various levels, from the way the character moves and relates to objects and elements of the scenario, to the character's own perception and interpretation of the context.

 

It is also important to take into account how the setting can act as a catalyst for relationships between secondary and main characters, fostering encounters, confrontation and cooperation between them.

 

In addition, analyzing the connection between the secondary character and the setting may offer interesting insights into the theme of identity and belonging. In fact, the secondary character may experience feelings of foreignness, adherence, or conflict toward the setting in which he or she finds himself or herself, and these dynamics may influence the way he or she acts and interacts with other characters.

 

In this sense, the relationship between the secondary character and the setting can become a key element in investigating issues related to otherness, cultural diversity, and the construction of individual and collective identity.

 

Finally, it is important to emphasize the role that setting can play in creating contrasts and narrative tensions within the literary work. The secondary character may represent an element of rupture, dissonance, or balance with respect to the setting in which he or she moves, and this interaction may generate situations of conflict or harmony, which enrich the plot and feed the reader's interest.

 

In conclusion, understanding the connection between the secondary character and the setting is essential to grasp the nuances and depths of the literary work and to provide a more complete and articulate representation of the narrative dynamics. Two secondary characters in classical literature and their relationship to the setting will be presented below.

 

The first character is Estella Havisham from the novel "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. Estella represents an emblematic example of a secondary character who is strongly influenced by her environment. Growing up in Miss Havisham's decadent mansion, Estella was brought up to become a weapon of vengeance against men, fueling her guardian's resentment and resentment.

 

The relationship between Estella and the setting is crucial to understanding her cold and detached behavior toward the protagonist, Pip. The setting in which she lives profoundly marks her personality, and her path of growth and maturation is closely linked to her attempt to free herself from the influence of the environment and the people who shaped her.

 

The study of Estella is useful because it allows us to analyze how the setting can shape a secondary character and how the latter can, in turn, influence the plot and the protagonist's path.

 

Another example of a secondary character related to the setting is Lucie Manette, featured in the novel "A Tale of Two Cities," also by Charles Dickens. Lucie is the daughter of Dr. Manette, a political prisoner released after 18 years of imprisonment in the Bastille. Although a secondary figure, Lucie plays a central role in the plot, serving as a bridge between the two opposing worlds represented by bourgeois London and revolutionary Paris.

 

The relationship between Lucie and setting is particularly evident in scenes set in Paris, where her character reflects the tension and uncertainty that characterize the historical period in which the narrative takes place. Analysis of Lucie's character can offer the beginning writer valuable insights into how to use a secondary character to highlight differences between different settings and to explore complex themes such as politics, justice, and loyalty.

 

In summary, examining secondary characters in classic literary works, such as Estella Havisham and Lucie Manette, can provide important lessons regarding the creation of believable and interesting characters, and how they can interact with the setting and other characters in the narrative. By studying these examples, authors can learn how to make the most of the potential of secondary characters to enrich the plot, deepen themes, and make the work more engaging and exciting for the reader.

 

3.3. Secondary characters and themes of the story

In the context of fiction, secondary characters play a key role in the explication of themes and the creation of a compelling and profound plot.

 

Their function, however, goes beyond merely supporting the protagonist: they are often the vehicle through which the author expresses concepts and ideas, contributing greatly to the message and meaning of the work.

 

Therefore, it is of paramount importance to examine how these characters interact with the themes of the story and what their contribution to them is.

 

First, secondary characters can enrich the themes of a work through their very existence and characterization. Through their presence, the author has the opportunity to explore new points of view, experiences, and emotions, allowing the reader to grasp nuances and aspects of the themes that would otherwise remain unexpressed.

 

In this sense, it is crucial that the writer carefully and thoughtfully outlines the distinctive features of each secondary character, avoiding making them mere stereotypes or mere extras, but instead giving them depth and depth.

 

Another relevant aspect concerns the interaction between secondary characters and other characters, both main and secondary, within the plot. Through the relationships established between them, the themes of the play can be emphasized and further developed.

 

For example, a secondary character could serve as a counterbalance to the protagonist, highlighting the differences and contradictions between their respective positions or highlighting the moral choices and consequences of the actions taken. In addition, the dynamic between secondary and main characters may prove useful in investigating social, political or cultural issues, creating a broader and more complex picture of the narrative context.

 

Regarding the contribution of secondary characters to the story's themes, it is important to consider their role within the narrative structure. They can take on a variety of functions, such as that of catalysts, antagonists, allies, or mentors, and, depending on these, they can play a decisive role in advancing the plot and highlighting the themes of the work.

 

In addition, secondary characters can act as mirrors for the protagonist, giving the reader a deeper insight into his personality and motivations, as well as his evolution over the course of the narrative.

 

Finally, secondary characters can help create a sense of verisimilitude and authenticity within the work, making themes emerge more naturally and organically. The presence of a well-characterized and diverse cast of characters enables the creation of a more faithful representation of reality and, as a result, makes the themes addressed more incisive and poignant.

 

An emblematic example of a secondary character who interacts with the themes of the play is Mercutio, Romeo's friend in William Shakespeare's famous tragedy "Romeo and Juliet." Mercutio is an energetic, witty and charismatic character who contrasts with Romeo's romantic and dreamy temperament. His violent death, caused by the conflict between the two rival families, serves as a catalyst for the final tragedy and highlights the central theme of impossible love and the struggle against fate.

 

The study of Mercutio is useful because it demonstrates how a well-characterized secondary character can help underscore and develop the themes of a work while enriching the plot and offering new insights.

 

Another notable secondary character is Lucie Manette in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. The daughter of Dr. Manette, Lucie embodies the theme of hope and redemption in a story pervaded by the violence of the French Revolution. Her purity and goodness positively influence the characters around her, such as the dissolute Sydney Carton who, in love with Lucie, performs a heroic and sacrificial act to save the life of Charles Darnay, Lucie's husband.

 

The relationship between Lucie and the other characters allows for the exploration of themes such as redemption, love and sacrifice, confirming the crucial role of secondary characters in deepening the themes of the play.

 

Analyzing the character of Lucie Manette can offer interesting insights regarding the importance of a secondary character capable of influencing other characters and, consequently, the plot itself.

 

In summary, secondary characters are key elements in the construction of a literary work, as they contribute to the enrichment of themes and the creation of a complex and compelling narrative.

 

The study of iconic secondary characters such as Mercutio and Lucie Manette can offer valuable insights for beginning writers, highlighting the importance of accurate and thorough characterization, as well as the ability to exploit the relationships between characters and their different functions within the plot to explore and develop the themes of the work. In this way, the writer will be able to bring to life an engaging, nuanced and meaningful narrative.

 

3.4. The use of stereotypes and clichés in the creation of secondary characters

In the literary landscape, the use of stereotypes and clichés in the creation of secondary characters can be an obstacle to the creation of a valuable work. Indeed, the presence of predictable and unoriginal figures risks reducing the reader's emotional impact and interest, compromising the depth and complexity of the narrative.

 

For this reason, it is crucial for writers, especially first-time writers, to approach the creation of secondary characters with originality and sensitivity, and to avoid resorting to stereotypical and trite solutions.

 

The most common stereotypes in the creation of secondary characters can be divided into seven categories. Among the most frequently encountered figures are:

 

  1. The protagonist's right-hand man: a loyal and faithful character, present to support the protagonist in his adventures and to offer sage advice. Never coming into conflict, he is a perfect "Yes man," a flat, one-dimensional performer.

  2. The evil antagonist: an evil and ruthless character with no plausible motivations or psychological nuance, who serves solely as an obstacle to the protagonist. The lack of depth in this type of character can make the story predictable and unexciting.

  3. The jester: a comic character whose purpose is to cheer the reader and provide moments of entertainment in the narrative. Often used superficially, this stereotype can be irritating and tiresome, as well as interrupting the narrative flow.

  4. The femme fatale: a seductive and dangerous female figure inserted into the plot to create sexual tension and love conflicts. This stereotype, if not carefully developed, can appear sexist and anachronistic.

  5. The wise mentor: an elderly character who offers teaching and advice to the protagonist, guiding him on his path of growth. Without depth, this figure can be repetitive and trite, especially if original insights into his past and motivations are not offered.

  6. The character with a mysterious past: a secondary character hiding a secret or dark past, often used to create suspense and curiosity in the reader. If mishandled, this stereotype can appear forced and not very believable.

  7. The ethnic or cultural character: a secondary character belonging to a different ethnic or cultural group than the protagonist, inserted into the plot to offer an alternative perspective or to create situations of conflict and confrontation. If not developed with care and respect, this stereotype can be offensive and inauthentic.

 

As for clichés, they too can negatively affect the quality of the narrative, as they represent trite and repetitive narrative solutions that can easily bore the reader.

 

However, it is important to note that under certain circumstances, the use of stereotypical or cliché-bound secondary characters can be functional to the narrative and even prove necessary.

 

Not all characters in the novel can be deepened, and therefore, the so-called flat character is the solution.

 

Flat characters, that is, those characterized by only one dimension, can be useful for several reasons. First, they allow the reader's attention to be focused on the protagonist and the main figures, and avoid dissipating narrative energy on secondary characters less important to the heart of the plot.

 

In this way, the writer can focus on the development of the main themes and the growth path of the central characters, without having to devote excessive space to the supporting figures.

 

In addition, flat characters can be useful in creating contrast with the main figures, highlighting their peculiarities and psychological facets. In the presence of a stereotypical secondary character, the protagonist and the other main characters can emerge as complex and well-developed figures, drawing the reader's interest more.

 

Another aspect to consider concerns the function of these characters in the economy of the plot. Flat characters can be employed to perform specific narrative tasks, such as providing crucial information, creating conflict situations, or solving story-related problems.

 

Thus, although these characters lack depth, they still contribute to the development of the plot and the progress of the narrative.

 

Finally, it should be noted that the choice of using stereotypical or cliché-bound secondary characters can be justified depending on the literary genre or context of the work. In some types of fiction, such as pulp fiction or the pulp novel, the use of flat characters can be considered a stylistic and structural feature that can offer the reader what he or she expects from that specific genre.

 

In conclusion, while it is generally inadvisable to use stereotypical and cliché-bound secondary characters, in certain situations they can prove functional to the narrative and contribute to the construction of a valuable work.

 

The challenge is to balance the use of such figures with the need to provide the reader with an engaging and original story capable of stirring emotions and reflection.

 

Chapter 4: Narrative techniques and secondary characters

4.1. The secondary character's point of view: advantages and challenges

In fiction, the perspective adopted to tell a story is a crucial element in the construction of the story itself. Specifically, the secondary character's point of view can offer advantages and challenges, helping to lend depth and complexity to the plot. In this examination, we will focus on these aspects, exploring the different ways through which such a perspective can be effectively managed and exploited.

 

One of the advantages of using the secondary character's perspective lies in the possibility of providing the reader with a broader and more multifaceted view of the events narrated.

 

Through the diversity of views and experiences offered by these characters, the story can gain new nuances and insight, enriching the plot and making the narrative more engaging. In addition, adopting such a perspective can help to better delineate the characters themselves, shedding light on aspects of their character and past that might otherwise remain unexplored.

 

However, choosing to tell the story from the point of view of a secondary character also entails some challenges, which the writer must be able to face and overcome. First, it is essential to strike a balance between the secondary character's perspective and that of the protagonist, avoiding taking too much space away from the latter and dispersing the reader's attention.

 

To do this, it is necessary to carefully select the moments in which to insert the secondary character's point of view, favoring those situations in which his or her presence can be effectively relevant and functional to the narrative.

 

Another difficulty that can be encountered in handling the secondary character's perspective concerns the internal coherence of the narrative. Indeed, when deciding to adopt the point of view of a character other than the protagonist, it is essential to pay attention to the continuity of the narrative and the verisimilitude of the situations described.

 

To overcome this obstacle, it is helpful to work carefully on the structure of the story and the relationships between the various characters, making sure that the transition from one perspective to the next is smooth and harmonious.

 

Moreover, handling the secondary character's point of view requires considerable skill in delineating and deepening the psychology of such figures. While it is important to prevent them from coming across as stereotypical and one-dimensional, it is equally crucial not to fall into the opposite excess of creating overly complex and articulate secondary characters that end up overshadowing the protagonist and undermining the balance of the story.

 

Finally, it is necessary to consider the risk of confusing or disorienting the reader through the adoption of multiple points of view, especially if these are alternated frequently and without a clear criterion.

 

To minimize this danger, it is advisable to proceed sparingly, including the secondary character's perspective only when it is essential for plot development or for understanding narrative dynamics.

 

In summary, the use of the secondary character's point of view in the construction of a literary work can offer numerous advantages, including the enrichment of the plot, the possibility of exploring new nuances and perspectives, and the increased psychological depth of the characters involved.

 

However, this choice also brings with it several challenges, which the writer must be able to face and handle with skill and discernment.

 

To cope with such difficulties, it is important to pay attention to the balance between the perspective of the secondary character and that of the protagonist, the internal coherence of the story, the psychological complexity of the characters, and the clarity of the narrative.

 

Only through careful analysis of these aspects will the writer be able to make the most of the potential offered by the secondary character's point of view, turning it into a valuable and functional element within his or her work.

 

An example of such an approach can be found in some of the works of authors of the caliber of Virginia Woolf or William Faulkner, who masterfully exploited the point of view of secondary characters, giving the reader a broader and more nuanced view of the events narrated and enriching their narrative with new insights and analysis.

 

In conclusion, the secondary character's point of view represents a narrative tool of great potential, which can help give depth and complexity to the story and its protagonists.

 

However, for this choice to prove fruitful and not counterproductive, it is essential that the writer be able to handle the resulting challenges with skill and sensitivity, making thoughtful and consistent choices in the area of structure, themes and characterisation of characters.

 

Only in this way, in fact, will it be possible to take full advantage of adopting the secondary character's perspective, making the literary work more engaging, exciting and meaningful for the reader.

 

4.2. Secondary characters and narrative structure: subplots and plots

In the field of literary creation, secondary characters play a critically important role in defining the narrative structure and in building subplots and plots that help to make the story more articulate and interesting.

 

Such figures, in fact, not only act as sidekicks to the protagonists, but also directly influence the development of the action and its outcome, enriching the work with additional levels of complexity and meaning.

 

One of the most notable aspects in which secondary characters intervene in the narrative structure is the creation of subplots, that is, parallel and interconnected events that unfold throughout the entire narrative.

 

The subplots allow for the exploration of themes, situations, and dynamics that, while not directly related to the main plot, amplify its scope and breadth, providing the reader with new insights and insights.

 

Secondary characters, in this context, act as catalysts for the subplots, interacting with the protagonist and the other characters, and giving rise to situations that can be both complementary to and conflicting with the main theme of the work.

 

In this way, they help weave a web of relationships and meanings that enriches the story and modulates its rhythm, allowing the writer to investigate different aspects of reality and the human condition.

 

Another area in which secondary characters play a crucial role is in the construction of the plots, that is, the relationships and interactions that are established between the different components of the work, and which determine its evolution and structure.

 

In fact, the interweavings are the glue that binds the various parts of the narrative together, enabling the reader to follow the succession of events with interest and involvement.

 

In this sense, secondary characters act as conduits and mediators between different events, allowing the writer to create links and connections between story elements and shape the narrative structure according to criteria of coherence, balance and organicity.

 

Through their intervention, they also offer the reader keys to reading and interpretation that facilitate understanding of the work and enhance its message.

 

To make the most of the potential offered by secondary characters in establishing the narrative structure and building subplots and plots, it is essential that the writer pay special attention to the characterization and development of these figures, avoiding reducing them to mere extras or clichés.

 

In fact, only through careful analysis of their motivations, desires, and contradictions will it be possible to give them a depth and complexity that will bring out their crucial role within the narrative structure and subplots.

 

An emblematic example of a subplot focusing on secondary characters is found in Lev Tolstoy's novel "Anna Karenina." While the focus of the narrative is on the love affair between Anna and Vronsky, the story of Konstantin Levin and Kitty Ščerbatskaya develops in parallel.

 

While not directly related to the main plot, this subplot explores themes such as marriage, faith, and the pursuit of happiness, enriching the work with additional nuance and giving greater depth to the characters involved.

 

Another example can be found in Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables," in which the subplot centered on Marius Pontmercy and Cosette is intertwined with the main story of Jean Valjean. Marius and Cosette, despite being secondary characters, contribute to deepening themes such as love, redemption and the struggle for justice, offering a different perspective than that of the protagonist and allowing the reader to appreciate the complexity of the society of the time.

 

In both of these cases, subplots related to secondary characters not only add depth to the story, but also enrich the main plot and help paint a broader and more articulate picture of the reality being told.

 

For the writer, the study of such examples can be an important source of inspiration and a valuable tool for learning how to handle the interweaving of subplots and secondary characters within one's work with skill and originality.

 

4.3. Dialogues and interactions between secondary and main characters

In the vast landscape of fiction, dialogues and interactions between main and secondary characters play a crucial role in defining relational dynamics and understanding the different facets of the characters involved.

 

Through words and actions, the authors delineate the personalities of the protagonists and co-players, highlight their inner conflicts and goals, and enrich the narrative fabric with nuances and details that enhance its verisimilitude and appeal.

 

Managing the interactions between central and peripheral figures in the story is a skill that requires careful attention to the psychological coherence of the characters and the fluidity of the dialogues. Indeed, the latter must come across as spontaneous and believable, avoiding falling into forced or unnecessarily contrived expressions.

 

The writer's task, then, is to strike a balance between the naturalness of language and the need to convey information useful for plot development and understanding of the issues addressed.

 

In addition, the conversations between protagonists and secondary characters provide an opportunity to highlight different aspects of each person's character and motivations, allowing the reader to identify with the events narrated and develop empathy for the protagonists.

 

In this sense, it is crucial that the interactions between the various actors in the story be credible and consistent with the context in which they take place, and avoid resorting to predictable or forced narrative solutions.

 

One of the main challenges facing authors in managing dialogue and interactions between main and secondary characters is to avoid the temptation to relegate them to a purely functional or ancillary role.

 

Indeed, secondary characters can and should contribute significantly to the complexity and depth of the story, enriching it with their experiences, personalities, and points of view.

 

In this sense, interactions between main and secondary characters can be used to deepen the themes addressed in the story, to explore new perspectives, and to stimulate the reader's reflection on issues of social, cultural, or personal relevance. Such exchanges can, moreover, offer interesting insights into the development of subplots and narrative twists that enrich the fabric of the novel and enhance its emotional and intellectual impact.

 

In short, the management of dialogue and interactions between main and secondary characters is a crucial aspect of narrative construction, requiring sensitivity, skill, and attention on the part of the author.

 

 

Chapter 5: Final Summary

5.1 The checklist for the secondary character

We have summarized the contents of this lengthy ten-point guide, a kind of checklist that you can keep an eye on at all times and that will help you check whether you have considered everything you need to design your secondary character, or where to go back to check.

 

  1. Characterization and development: Clearly define distinctive traits, goals and motivations of secondary characters, ensuring that they have a coherent narrative arc.

  2. Relationship to the setting: Ensure that secondary characters interact meaningfully with their surroundings, enhancing their distinctive elements.

  3. Interaction with themes: Involve secondary characters in addressing and deepening the main themes of the story to enrich the narrative.

  4. Archetypes and narrative roles: Reflect on the specific role each secondary character plays in the story, making use of narrative archetypes without abusing them.

  5. Avoid stereotypes and clichés: Try not to use secondary characters based on stereotypes and clichés to give more originality and depth to the story.

  6. "Flat" characters and usefulness: Consider whether to use simpler or "flat" secondary characters in certain contexts, as long as they are functional to the narrative.

  7. Point of view and narrative voice: Consider using the point of view of secondary characters to provide a different perspective and enrich the story.

  8. Narrative structure and subplots: Integrates secondary characters into subplots and narrative plots to make the story more complex and interesting.

  9. Dialogues and interactions: Curate dialogues between main and secondary characters, paying attention to psychological consistency and fluency of language.

  10. Balance importance and functionality: Ensure that secondary characters are significant and useful to the story but do not overshadow the main characters.

 

5.2 Appendix: 10 essays and manuals to read

This selection of manuals and essays covers various aspects of creating and developing secondary characters, from building believable and interesting personalities to managing dialogue and character interactions.

 

They are valuable resources for writers who wish to deepen their knowledge and mastery of creating valuable secondary characters in literature.

  1. "The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV" - David Corbett

  2. "Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated" - Nancy Kress

  3. "The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface" - Donald Maass

  4. "Characters and Viewpoint: Elements of Fiction Writing" - Orson Scott Card

  5. "The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing: Everything You Need to Know to Create & Sell Your Work" - Writer's Digest Editors

  6. "The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue: A Fresh Look at an Essential Ingredient of the Craft" - John Hough Jr.

  7. "Creating Characters: How to Build Story People" - Dwight V. Swain

  8. "Building Better Characters: The Art of Character Development for Writers" - K.M. Weiland

  9. "Le personnage secondaire dans le roman contemporain" - Frédéric Monneyron

  10. "Characters in Search of an Author: A Guide to Creating Memorable Characters" - Alberto Berti


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