A fairly thoughtful writer asked the other day when it's necessary to develop a second character in a novel. Here's what I said.
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Good question. Complex answer. Let's see if I can nail it for you.
All novels require at least "a" well-developed secondary character. And sometimes several. That's because all novels have conflict. Your protagonist doesn't float through life without a care, or it wouldn't be much of a story. As a protagonist, he or she needs full development so that the reader will empathize with him and want to learn more—including what happens to him in the end.
The same is true for the antagonist. The reader has to find out enough about him to want to continue reading, to try to figure out what motivates him, to feel some sort of empathy toward him, as rotten as he may appear to be. Readers thirst for the knowledge of what motivates various characters to act. As an author, you have to provide that knowledge for them without revealing too much.
One of the largest failings of novelists, both established and newbies, is to paint their antagonists with the broad brush of negativity. He's harmful because he's pure evil. He eats, sleeps, and drinks evil. He worships the devil. He reeks of bad breath and alcohol. After all, we want the reader to know who the good guy is versus who the bad guy is, don't we? Read More