How I create a side-character.
(Example from Wanderer’s Web.)
I’ve always focused hard on my dialogue.
It’s something that matters a lot to me, the way characters would sound if they spoke aloud. In my head every character has a name, a back story, and most importantly, to me anyway, a clear voice. From Cletus (Tarantula in CH5 of WW) to Kint, himself.
Where are they from? Do they carry an accent? Do they have a slight lisp or speech impediment? Does their voice shine or sound fake? Smoker? Proper English? Slang? Big words? Avoiding contractions? Often I create most of the character based entirely off of that one aspect.
From there I decide what type of emotions they express in their voice. Happy, sad, angry, proud? Then I add a name that fits this person.
I needed a convenience store clerk. I pictured a tall thin teenager. A 19 year old male, native, slight lisp, smoker, bland bored voice. Not even bothering to keep it fake. His name is Devon.
Next some accouterments. Clothes, a persistent cell phone, and a not-so-persistent limp. Cell phone is easy to add and I never got around to the limp. Or his parents, Bill and Tiffany Storeclerk, disappointed in their son for skipping college, or that he got fired from Arachne’s Cup about eight weeks ago, but to me he became a very real person.
It made it easier to imagine my leads character’s interactions with him, and in the end it all lead to one scene- ‘“God help the youth,” Kint said bitterly as he walked out, regretting the words as he spoke. If his job was to stand behind a counter all day, he’d probably be pretty apathetic too.’
I felt a bit bad for the guy, in the end, and so did my hero. It turned a side character into a person and in turn gave readers a new view of both him and my lead.
It’s also how Kint went from Spider-Chow in the original stories prologue* to hero. His voice had a slight hint of mischief to it. He was messing with that barista, flirting, because that’s the type of voice he had. He was too nice to kill off that easy.
This method makes for quick side characters that, I hope anyway, feel a bit human.
(*Funfact: I wrote the epilogue and titled it prologue, and posted it here on my site for two days before noticing. I had readers during that time. Wow, I’m off to a great start. )
How do you create side character?
This question thing working for you?
I promised a cat in the last blog huh?