If a little TLC (Tender Loving Care, or shall I call it Tender Literary Care) is showered on the other characters the story gets enriched and is all the better for it.
Many times I have noticed in some books that the other characters are ignored, they are just props that silently appear on the stage and then do the disappearing act after their purpose is fulfilled. There is not much of a role for them to play in the story. I agree that the story is predominantly about the Main Character, but is the MC living on an island, all alone. No. More often than not the MC lives in a world swamped with people. Some more closer to him/her than others. And these people have lives of their own.
So isn’t it a writer’s duty to flesh out these supporting characters well. To breathe life into them. We can definitely give them more prominent roles to play. There can be a couple of sub plots racing alongside, or better still intersecting the main plot with these supporting characters in the thick of things.
These characters can have their own goals and problems to solve, their dreams and aspirations to be achieved. If these characters too grow like the Main Character by the end of the story, the story becomes full bodied with warm blood gushing in its veins.
The supporting characters’ back story can be revealed during their frequent interactions with the main character. Readers are not just interested in following the MC, they also love to read about each and every character in the book. Sketchy characters with no clue where they are going have a jarring effect. Then it becomes obvious that the writer has not paid attention, or is just not concerned about anyone except the MC.
Supporting characters who are strong entities, who can stand on their own, push the story even if the protagonist is not around in few scenes. If these characters are on the Antagonist’s side, they can intensify the Conflict. If they are on the Protagonist’s side they can assist in the Resolution.
I have seen that the books I have read and reread have strong supporting characters and these characters are not there just for decoration. Many times they overtake the protagonist with agendas of their own. The supporting characters should not be treated as puppets. They are capable of making decisions and taking actions without the protagonist’s consent. These strong supporting characters make for a good read.
What about you all? Do you all pay equal attention to the ensemble cast? Do you all shower a little bit of TLC on the supporting characters? How do you all handle these characters? Please tell us. We would love to know and learn.