When we set out to write a story, we know which characters are the main characters, the ones readers will cheer and invest emotions in. That is until books are turned into movies and actors cast to play supporting characters do such a tremendous job, they steal the show from main characters.
Did you know the main characters in Pirates of the Caribbean were Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner? Jack Sparrow was a supporting character . . . until he stole the show.
Did you know Phil Coulson was only a supporting character in The Avengers. Writers thought it was okay to kill him off . . . until fans rattled their cage to have him resurrected.
The same happened in Thor: The Dark World. They killed Loki, then realised he was too big a character to knock off, and they had to bring him back. He was supporting Thor, but we know how that went down with Loki fans.
While Korg ‘the rock guy’ was a minor character who may have faded into the background if his role had been played poorly, he instead became one of the most memorable characters in Thor: Ragnarok. His fan-base exploded, and collections of his scenes were posted to YouTube and shared by millions.
These were movies I saw. There are many more examples both in theatres and on television.
This stealing of the show can take place with the written word, too, if effort is put into secondary characters to give them their own stage to perform. While these characters don’t get as much page space and their past isn’t fleshed out as much as the main characters’, they still need some development.
Think of this when writing these minor characters. Take the time to make them unique and who knows, maybe one of them will steal the show from a main character and they’ll get their own spin-off novel.