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How About an Award for Best Supporting Characters?

By Anne Beggs
June 6, 2023

Secondary characters, the supporting roles, vital to the story and the character arc, but not the main event. What is Jamie Frazier without Fergus? Elizabeth Zott without Harriet Sloane? Luke Skywaker without Han Solo?

What if there were an award for the best supporting character in a book, like in the Academy Awards for movies?

I am writing the Dahlquin family saga, five books total, and some short stories, most set in Medieval Ireland. There are many characters; some are walk-ons, some red shirts, and others make themselves indispensable, forcing me to write my stories accordingly. If I don’t keep a tight rein, the voices can turn my stories to chaos, everyone screaming to be heard. Or is it just me? Needless to say, in writing, I’m a pantster (I write by the seat of my pants rather than plot it), I need to let the story and characters take me many places, until I can distill it down.

These secondary characters must be engaging, interesting, and worthy of the protagonist to keep him or her moving forward.

Here are four characters from several of my books:

In Archer’s Grace, Book One, Lord Albert of Ashbury, has garnered quite a fan base, and is a pantster character for sure. Ashbury needed a strong, complicated lord to balance the feud between Scragmuir and Dahlquin. The bedroom scene that introduces him just emerged, and I kept typing, creating a popular, engaged character who continues through subsequent books.

Val is only mentioned in Archer’s Grace but fits the “side kick” conscience for both Roland and Eloise, coming to life in Book Two and beyond. His character has evolved and changed throughout the years of my writing and continues to do so as the story requires. His time with Roland and Eloise also affects his character arc though all the books.

Maid Gwyneth FitzGilbert of Leinster is funny, fiesty and flirtatious. Eloise needs a confidante and companion to point out her shortcomings and help her navigate the politics outside Connacht. Like Val, Gwyneth blossoms in Book Two. The story needed more sisterhood, and the seeds have sprouted in ways I had not expected.

Brendan – Wolf Song, Book Five. A very interesting character who strode into a scene, a total stranger to my characters AND me, then proceeded to take over. Who was he, what did he represent? He is an elusive guy. Roland interrogates him throughout the book with limited success. It was page turning for me to write, and I hope I maintain that for readers. I am glad I stuck with him; he really was the catalyst the story needed.

There are many secondary characters in the Dahlquin series, and I look forward to watching them grow and I wonder what “volunteers” will come up in the garden of my writing:  Who to weed out and who to cultivate? Who should win an award for best supporting character?


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Anne Beggs

Written by Anne Beggs

Anne M. Beggs writes adventure romance and family saga set in Medieval Ireland. She is a member of Paper Lantern Writers and Historical Novel Society. For about her books, mounted archery, and horses, please contact her on Facebook or Instagram @annitbella72

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