Secondary characters can make or break a good book. Yeah, we need a compelling antagonist and protagonist, but if they don’t have people around them, the story can fall pretty boring. Secondary characters can hold a variety of roles in a story with varying levels of involvement. A good background character can capture your attention and begin to make you wish you knew more about them and their story. That’s exactly the focus of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. When I first started this list, I thought it would be super easy, but as so often happens, it turned out to be much more difficult. A lot of the stories where I want to see a story from a secondary character already have those things – Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, etc – Retelling classics has been kind of big thing recently. You may have noticed. I had a couple characters I knew I wanted to list right away, but then I had to dig deep – and I actually really like the results. Some of these are directly within the realm of the novel’s main characters, others are really peripheral. Some of them I want to know more about how they influenced the events of the book they’re in. Others, I want to know about their story, either before the events of the novel or because of those events.
Without further ado, here are the characters I want to read more about.
Jasper – Twilight Series
Yes. I said I want to know more about a Twilight character. I’m getting the most embarrassing of the picks out of the way first. And I have a caveat that I would only want this story if Meyers had nothing to do with the writing of it. I actually liked this character. I would like to know more about his story from the time he’s training the newbies through what he does after that situation ends then on to how he eventually meets Alice. The background stories to the Cullens are a million times more interesting than the events that actually happen in those four novels.
Neville’s Parents – Harry Potter Series
By now, you should know how I feel about Neville. He’s an exceptional character that undergoes more growth and personal development than any other character in the series. But I know most of his story. What I’d really like to read is the story of his parents. If you’ve only ever seen the movies – first, shame on you – you might not know all that much about his parents, but there’s more information about them in the books. They were both aurors! Both of them hunted and captured dark witches and wizards throughout the first reign of Voldemort, until they were finally severely injured by Bellatrix, leaving Neville to be raised by his grandmother. Why isn’t this a thing that’s been written? Is it on Pottermore? I haven’t really gotten around to checking that site out yet.
Go – Gone Girl
Gone Girl is one of my favourite books for truly unlikable characters. Everyone in this book is basically awful in one way or another. It’s what makes the book amazing. But there is one shining light of ‘good’ in the book, Nick’s twin sister, Go. What was it like growing up in a house where your father clearly hates women? How did she cope with her parents’ relationship and her mother’s cancer? I want her opinion on Amy because she clearly had that girl figured out long before anyone else did. And now how does she live with what her brother was suspected of and, knowing what she knows, his decision at the end of the book?
Plutarch Heavensbee – Hunger Games Series
Anarchy is at its best when it works and breathes within the machine it is trying to defeat. This is the case with Plutarch. He’s the damn game master and he’s working the system to get Katniss where she needs to be to propel the rebellion. I would love to read his side of the story. He saw what happened with Seneca Crane but he still choses to risk his life to manipulate the games. He is, by far, one of the most layered and intriguing characters in the series.
Narcissa Malfoy – Harry Potter Series
I had to include two Harry Potter characters. Just had to. There are just so many secondary story possibilities in this series. I am a person who tends to be drawn to the villainous characters. The bad guys often have a deeper story than the good guys. Not always – Voldemort is basically just a dick – but I just wonder how some of these characters ended up where they are. Narcissa is definitely one of these characters. What drew her to Lucius? Was she different before? Or was he? How did they end up as Death Eaters? Was it Bellatrix? She would do anything to protect her family. There is so much story to be told! I guess there would be some overlap with my first HP choice on this list. All of these people were probably in school together, but they would be very different stories. Both deserve to be told.
Diana Barry – Anne of Green Gables
Most Canadian women of a certain age had a love for Anne of Green Gables in their youth. She had so many wacky adventures and always let her temper get the best of her. She had this magnetic appeal. But I’d love to hear the story of what it was like to have this whirlwind of a girl barrel into your life and suddenly become your best friend. Diana Barry is steady and stable and proper and boring. She is a perfect daughter– until Anne accidentally gets her drunk and lost and everything else…
Poppet and Widget – The Night Circus
The ethereal twins born within the circus. They have these fabulous tents and somehow, even with all their strangeness, they ground the story. They are what weave everything and everyone together. They appear a lot in the story, but I just want to know more about them. I actually remember very little of the book except for them. I should really re-read this book.
Mac & Wallace – Veronica Mars
These are books now – this totally counts. Mac is my absolute favourite character in Veronica Mars, and I would be remiss to refer to either her or Wallace as secondary characters, but we know almost nothing about their lives outside of their direct interaction with Veronica. Wallace is a teacher!? What? That is not the career I would have predicted, but it seems so naturally right once you know about it. Mac is a computer genius – we all knew this – but what else does she do? Do they have personal lives? I think Wallace and Mac are secretly dating. They balance out VM’s intensity and are probably two of the only people who really understand the lengths their friend is willing to go to. They’d be the perfect support system for each other.
Peter and Jamie and Adam – In the Woods
The end of this book is a point of contention for many people. It divided the people that love this book from the ones who thought they would love it until the ending – because a major part of the story is left unanswered. I loved this book. I loved the open ending. I didn’t think we needed to resolve the story of the three kids in order to resolve the book. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know the details of that story. What the hell happened to Peter and Jamie and Adam in those woods! For real. French could easily write a novella for that story and probably set herself up for a couple years’ worth of income. People want to know!
Julian – The Forbidden Game
You’ve probably never heard of this book. It’s an old L.J. Smith Trilogy from the mid 90s. I’ve talked about it briefly before. The villain in the novel is Julian. He’s not really a secondary character, in fact, he’s the antagonist, but I really want to know his story. He’s one of the great ‘teen villains’ from that generation of YA books. Actually, he’s striking enough that he’s one of the only young villains I can think of off the top of my head from any YA book. I remembered him by name even when I hadn’t read the books in over a decade. He’s a bad dude. I want to know more about him. How does he control the games? Where does he come from? How old is he really? Has he done these things before? Why is his hair so blond!
Would any of these make your list? Who would you pick?