It’s the rare novel where a character stands completely alone. Friends play an important role in literature for children and young adults. These companions for your main character can serve various functions:
- Plain and simple, they are someone to talk to and to do things with.
- They show that your character is lovable and likable, even when they don’t feel that way about themselves.
- Friends can offer lenses through which readers see the main character from another perspective.
- They reveal information about the main character through dialogue and other interactions.
- Their expectations may provide a past for the main character – they can be someone who knew them when things were different.
- Friends may create obstacles for the main character – intentionally or not.
- Their simple friendship and caring and/or need to protect the main character may actually be an obstacle in itself – perhaps they keep the character from doing what needs to be done.
Although secondary characters can enrich and deepen a story, they must be carefully placed within the story. Keep a few things in mind:
- Don’t let them steal the show. Don’t give them the best lines and most exciting story lines.
- Be aware of the secondary characters’ own arcs and lives. They do not have to change the way that the main character does, but they shouldn’t fall into a vacuum whenever they disappear off-page.
- Make sure they are there to impact, influence, change, help, or perhaps foil the main character’s quest and/or growth.
By the way, I’ve been enjoying Audrey Vernick’s blog on Literary Friendships.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK