Secondary Characters

I had an interesting thought last night as I wondered about what the relationship was between the best friend of my MC and the MC’s siblings. Even though I might not have scenes between these characters in the actual novel, writing the scenes down so I’m aware of it can add depth to the story.

A blogger I follow, Rii the Wordsmith, did a post last week where she mentioned that even when your villain is off-screen, you as the writer should know what he/she is doing so the villain is more than just a cardboard cutout.

[NOTE: If you need help with writing villains, Rii’s blog is an awesome one to follow]

Knowing about your characters that aren’t the protagonist will help your novel to stick out because readers will care about more characters. They’ll feel more real.

Would readers care about the deaths in the Harry Potter series if those secondary characters didn’t feel real?


Even though the characters who died meant something to Harry, we as readers would not have cared if they didn’t have depth–If we didn’t know them.

Knowing about all of your characters brings power.

How do you get to know your secondary characters better?


The Middle-Muddle: Write a middle that has some punch! (Story Structure in Harry Potter, Pt III)

Write Like Rowling

Photo by Bells Design @ Gratisography / CC0 1.0

The middle of a novel comprises 50% of a book’s pages. It doesn’t have the fresh taste of a beginning and it doesn’t have the twists and turns of an ending. It’s just the middle.    Just    the    middle.    Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Writing the middle of a novel has sunk many an aspiring writer; so how exactly did Rowling do it?

Part II: The Response

Reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks immensely helped my understanding of the mechanics behind “the dreaded middle.” In my previous post I discussed the first 25% of a novel, The Setup, which ends after the first plot point. This post will focus on the second part: The Response.

The Response spans another 25-30% of a novel and its purpose is to zero in on the protagonist’s reaction to his new situation after getting…

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The Beginning: Get your book off to a rock solid start (Story Structure in Harry Potter, Pt II)

This was a great read and being an avid Harry Potter fan I can see how Rowling followed these rules. In reading about the setup, I now can really see what I need to do for Book 2.

Write Like Rowling

Photo by Martin Wessely @ Unsplash / CC0 1.0

In my previous post we discussed how Rowling’s unique plots were (ironically) successful because she followed some basic novel guidelines. I specifically focused on plot points and pinch points in that post as defined by Larry Brooks in his book Story Engineering. Now in this post I’m going to be referring to Brooks’ text again to look at a few more important elements of story structure.

I’m a visual learner myself so here’s a diagram of the parts I’ll be talking about:


Story Structure

Now for the specifics:


Harry Potter Story Structure

In Story Engineering Brooks writes that there are four major parts of a novel: The Setup, The Response, The Attack and The Resolution. Like a circle, successfully writing one of these parts determines the success of the next part – and the success of…

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Thoughts on J.K. Rowling

I, in addition to many of my generation, love J.K. Rowling.

The Harry Potter books were a part of my growing up and since I’ve gotten older, I have noticed things that make me say, “Wow, I never recognized that before.”

She is a brilliant writer and a hero of mine. I read an article called “A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter,” that has made me think even deeper about the great lessons within those books. If you would like to read it, here is the link:

Lastly, I just finished watching her speech to Harvard graduates in 2008 and there is so much that I learned there. Live with imagination and learn from failure. Great lessons!