I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to write stories with just one character. There is a lot of time that the character spends alone, just because that’s how their life works out. It has nothing to do with not wanting to write extra details, I just find that my stories go that way. Or at least there’s a section of time where my character is alone.
So I write side characters. Not regular human characters (or whatever species the main character is). I wrote a vampire story, and he had his horse with him. A story about a horse, and he has a few different side characters throughout his life; a little girl, a goat, a kitten, another horse. A story about a pregnant woman trapped in an abandoned village, a cat found her.
They aren’t characters that get a ton of attention. They may have some backstory, but not a long one. Even so, I find them to be important to the story.
Side characters give a chance to show other aspects of the main character. They give a chance to practice your dialogue (something I am working hard on), and a bit of a back and forth with your character and someone else. Even if it is just a woman talking to a cat with no response. It is a chance for another side of your character to be exposed through interaction with someone other than their own brain.
Unless the solitude of your lone character is an important part of your story, the character development shown by any level of relationship can make a difference between a decent story, and a good one.
There’s no perfect formula. It all comes down to what you are comfortable writing, and what you prefer for the story you are writing. But sometimes it is fun to stretch yourself and try to work on the opposite of whatever you usually do.
How about it? Do you stick with a solid main character and not worry about anything alongside of that? Do you write side characters like I do? Or do you fit somewhere in between and switch for different stories?
Feel free to share some examples if you have any. I’d love to see your work.