Secondary characters don’t have to be people. They can be animals too. In my novel Papa’s Bones, my lead character has basset hound named Simon. By letting my main character have a dog, I can show her capacity for loyality and responsibility without having to resort to telling. I chose a basset hound for two reasons: 1)The breed attributes blended well with my main character 2)I was writing what I knew.
Living with Bella (that’s her to the left) is like having a permanent toddler with O.C.D. Just when I think I’ve learned where the invisible line is on my counter, I hear a crash and rush into the kitchen. There she is wiggling with glee trying to root open a bag of potato chips. I have to remind myself not be angry. After centuries of genetic experimentation, she’s a dwarf with an olfactory system ten million times stronger than mine.
Other than the bloodhound, basset hounds have the second strongest nose in the canine world. Their droopy ears, sagging eyes, and loose wrinkly skin turn them into one determined sniffing machine. They latch onto a smell and nothing else matters.
When developing secondary characters go beyond stereotypes. Delve farther into your imagination. And sometimes the best examples are those right in front of you.