Secondary Characters: Techniques for Writing Unforgettable Secondary Characters OnDemand Webinar

Secondary Characters: Techniques for Writing Unforgettable Secondary Characters OnDemand Webinar

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Imagine Bridesmaids without Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Her without Samantha, The King's Speech without Logue, or The Dark Knight without The Joker. These movies simply wouldn't be the same without these well-crafted secondary characters.

While it's easy to see what role the protagonist plays in the story secondary characters are often given a backseat and left underdeveloped. This is a missed opportunity to take your screenplay to the next level. Knowing how to create unforgettable secondary characters starts with understanding that their main role in the story is to shed light on the protagonist in some way. They do this by interacting with the protagonist in one of five archetypal ways - as the antagonist, the best friend, the love interest, the mentor, or the fool.

These archetypal secondary characters create conflict, move the plot forward and are the catalyst for the protagonist's transformation. The relationship the protagonist forms with these secondary characters is the basis for their overall arc and how these relationships are resolved is a key element of the story. This is some pretty heavy lifting for characters that are often relegated to the sidelines.

LA based story editor and script consultant, Ruth Atkinson, will use examples of secondary characters from recent films to illustrate the five archetypes and the corresponding elements needed to craft the kind of unique, three dimensional characters that elevate your story and feel anything but minor.


  • The five main secondary character archetypes
  • How secondary characters shed light on the protagonist
  • How to give secondary characters a meaningful relationship with the protagonist
  • How to use secondary characters to create conflict, move the plot forward and be catalysts for change
  • How to properly introduce a secondary character
  • How to give secondary characters unique attributes
  • The difference between a secondary character and a minor character
  • When and how to give secondary characters an arc of their own
  • Secondary characters in buddy films (Heat) and ensembles (Guardians of the Galaxy)
  • How to avoid stereotype and clich√©


  • Writers who are struggling with what secondary characters they need to have in their story
  • Writers who want to give their protagonist a meaningful emotional transformation via a relationship with a best friend, mentor or love interest
  • Writers who want to create a powerful antagonist
  • Writers who want to see examples of well-crafted secondary characters in current films
  • Writers whose scripts have been rejected due to weak secondary characters
  • Writers who are in the process of outlining, writing their first draft or rewriting their screenplay
  • Writers at all levels
  • Writers who want to take their screenplay to the next level by having unforgettable secondary characters

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