Much like many of the things I post on this blog, this is something I planned to post a long time ago, and never got around to. So, even though its a year late, here is Ginger Scott's guest post! Ginger Scott is the author of Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, How we deal with Gravity, Blindness, and This is Falling. The following guest post is about writing her own strong side characters, and mentioning a few of her favourites that she's read over the years.
When I sat down to write my debut, “Waiting on the Sidelines,” I knew what my story would centre on. I knew I wanted to really capture the challenges of being a teenaged girl—the struggle to fit in, the challenge of knowing when to say “no” and when to give in, and the heartbreak of falling in love.
I had the story in my head—the ups, the downs, the raw feeling of being slapped in the face, embarrassed, in love but invisible. But I knew if I wanted any of it to matter, I had to make people feel it. You can do that through your main characters, for sure. And I fought through any and all doubt to always make my main characters honest—sometimes, brutally so with their dialogue. And I think that added a lot of the punch to the emotion of my story.
But I wanted more—I always do with everything I write. I want my readers to be the story—to stand in those shoes, to cry with the heroine, to feel the frustration of the hero and to want to come back the next day for their friends. Beyond them wanting to just be there, I want them to actually believe they are.
So I made some very powerful friends—and I put them in every corner of the story. There are brothers, sisters, parents and friends in “Waiting on the Sidelines” and the sequel “Going Long,” and they aren’t just shadows that pop in and out to move the plot along. They’re rich, with backgrounds and histories and purpose. They have colorful personalities, speak meaningful words, and they’re there for my main characters in every possible way.
They’re exactly what people are to us in real life. When your friends go home, their stories continue. When our families aren’t around, it doesn’t mean they stop living. And when they’re with us, they’re really with us. And that’s what I wanted for Nolan and Reed in “Waiting.”
Since my books were released, I’ve heard from many readers who say the richness of my supporting characters is their favorite part. They say they feel real, like people they wish they really knew—and hearing that honestly makes my heart do an actual happy dance. I can’t pretend that I’m doing something extraordinarily new, but I’m honored to hear that I’m getting this right.
When I think about my favorite books and what makes them leap to the top of my list, I realize that the side characters play a pretty powerful role. So, in honor of my favorite fictional friends, I give you my top five list of my favorite side characters in the books I read over the last couple years.
No. 5: Daniel and Six: These amazing characters in Colleen Hoover’s “Finding Cinderella” started out as the support systems for the main characters in “Hopeless,” and I knew I loved them then. It was a delight to see them get the full spotlight in their own story.
No. 4: Drew: I firmly believe that the love that develops between Josh and Nastya in “The Sea of Tranquility” might not have been as powerful had it not been for Josh’s well-meaning, but poor-decision-making best friend Drew Leighton.
No. 3: Flat Finn: I love the out-of-the-box character development Jessica Park gives to Flat Finn in “Flat-Out Love.” I’m a sucker for stories that get behind the psychology of why we do what we do and show mental illness and distress in a real way. And Flat Finn, the cardboard brother that Celeste makes to replace her real one that’s no longer around is something truly beautiful. For that matter, I’d have to give kudos to Celeste’s character in this great love story, too.
No. 2: Kel and Caulder: If these two young boys didn’t search out one another and become best friends, then Layken and Will might never had had their spark in the first place in Hoover’s “Slammed.”
No. 1: America: America in “Beautiful Disaster” pretty much takes the cake. She is the best girlfriend I want by my side for everything, and in many ways, I see a piece of her in all of my best friends. I think that’s what makes her so real.