Supporting characters

I’ve been wondering … am I the only person who like supporting characters better than the main characters, regardless of story, genre or media? It’s rare for me to actually identify or like the main character, like maybe around 5% of the time. Not that I dislike the main characters, but I just don’t find them the most interesting or they don’t quite make it to the top of the list.

Main characters I actually liked better than the other characters? Sherlock Holmes, Gregory House (House MD), Artemis Fowl, John Ross (Word and Void, Terry Brooks), Abel Nightroad (Trinity Blood) … That’s about it. Why is the list so short?

If I were to list all my favourite characters which are not main character, the list would be endless. My favourite books, Lord of the Rings, I’d pick Aragorn, Gandalf, Faramir, Denethor. The four hobbits would probably come in Top 10, not Top 5. I prefer Dalben and Gwydion to Taran (Chronicles of Prydain); Sesshoumaru to Inuyasha; Robin to Batman; Roy, Hawkeye, Scar and Alphonse to Edward (FMA); Tezuka, Fuji Syuusuke and Kaidou to Echizen Ryoma (Prince of Tennis); Akira to Hikaru (Hikaru no Go); Arutha and Kulgan to Pug (Riftwar, RE Feist); Belgarath, Polgara and Hettar to Garion (Belgariad, David Eddings); O’mara to Conway (Sector General, James White); Joshua to Simon (MST, Tad Williams); Urd/Skuld to Beldandy/Keichi (AMG); Touya, Yue, Clow to Sakura (CCS); Keiki to Yoko (12 Kingdoms); etc.

Even the stories I wrote myself are no exceptions. Why is that?

Looking at the main character list, certain characteristics do stand out. Most of these characters have an aura of mystery about them that the other characters can’t quite figure out. Or they are seen through the filter of another character, such as Sherlock Holmes through the eyes of Watson. Perhaps that is why I like them.

Perhaps this mysterious or unrevealed story/characteristic is part of the charm that piques my interest. A half-veiled character leaves so much more room for the reader/audience’s imagination. Is it a case of less is more? Rare glimpses of the minor character’s development constrast starkly with the rest of the ‘easily accessible’ story line?

Yet one of the axioms of writting is develop your characters. So, is there such a thing as over-developing a character? The main character will be especially susceptible to this.

Then again, maybe it’s just me and my preference for the subtle, unspoken, between the lines character development. When the characters development happen ‘off spotlight’ or almost off-hand. Then again, it might not be a very good way to write or at the very least, not an easy way to write. Pacing gets bogged down or just  turned into boring expositions and incomprehensible reveals. After all, something needs to be said, shown, revealed for the missing pieces to be contrasted against. It’s a tricky business that requires more thought.

Then again, maybe it’s just my silly preference for the stoic silent types that reveal more through their actions than their words.

Or it could be as simple as my liking pretty bishies. 😉

Who knows?


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