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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 20th day of Collecting, Yr 19
The Neopian Times Week 104 > Articles > Generating A Cool Adventure: How To Make Supporting Characters

Generating A Cool Adventure: How To Make Supporting Characters

by stoneman3x

ADVENTURE GENERATOR - The most boring story in the entire world would be one in which the hero sat alone all day and nothing happened. My life would fit nicely into this category, but that's not the point. It's really important for any story you write to have a great hero. But a great hero isn't the only character you need. In order for a story to be good the main character has to have someone to talk to besides himself. Even a guy like Robinson Crusoe, who was shipwrecked on a desert island, had somebody to share coconut sandwiches with. On Fridays, anyway.

So what kind of characters make up a good supporting cast for your literary masterpiece? Well, there are three categories of secondary characters. They are good guys, bad guys and mediocre guys. All three types are important to your story if for no other reason than to keep the hero from being bored stiff, not to mention your readers.

CREATING A VILLAIN

The hero is the most important character in a story, obviously. If you don't have someone the story is about, you pretty much have an empty piece of paper. That or an essay on the unique features of the dung reclining chair. But the most important guy in a story, besides the hero, is the villain. The whole success of a story rests on the warped mind and evil sneer of the hero's arch-nemesis. Without some sort of badness to overcome, the hero might as well stay home, make popcorn and read the Nigel the Chia Stock Report.

The key to making a good bad guy, so to speak, is making a foe that only your hero can defeat. All villains have some kind of a weakness that leads to their downfall. Or they forget something important like not hiring guards who like to take a lot of naps. Most of the time only the hero even knows what the bad guy is up to. Villains have a tendency to be very sneaky and like to keep their enormous floating city-sized headquarters a secret.

Bad guys can be lots of fun to invent. The more bizarre they are, the better. An example might be a demonic mutant Angelpuss that wants to take over the tuna porridge factory. Everyone loves a bad guy that is charming and creepy at the same time. But the trick to making a villain is to create someone that everyone wants to see defeated. So try to stay away from making him too loveable. There is nothing worse than having everyone adore your villain and think your hero is a pointless geek.

Villains fall into two categories. Those who are evil for a living and those who simply don't like your particular hero. Dr. Sloth is an example of a villain who has made a career out of nastiness. He is so dedicated to making life miserable for everyone that he is a popular bad guy in a lot of stories now. Which, oddly enough, is a good reason to stay away from him. His evil schemes are beginning to get predictable. If you are stuck for an arch-enemy, the Neopedia and collectible cards offer a variety of lesser known but equally despicable characters. Of course, you could also create your own perpetually sinister bad guy. That's even more fun.

The second type of bad guy is one that is only really bad for one story or who just happens to be on the opposite side from your hero. To give you an idea of what I mean, let's say your hero is a Lupe. A rival in the Battledome tosses Chia flour on him and now none of his friends will talk to him. In fact, the head of his Lupe pack decides that your hero must be eliminated because he is now a Chia who knows all of the closely guarded secrets of the Lupes. Like where to find the book "Howling For Fun" at a really cheap price. The Lupe pack leader is the villain of your story, but he isn't really evil. He just doesn't like Lupes-who-are-turned-into-Chias.

CREATING A VILLAINESS

Basically, a villainess is a villain with a decent hairdo and more stylish clothes. A villainess is just as evil a villain is, except for two glaring differences. Okay, let me rephrase that. There are two things that make the personality of a villainess different than the personality of a villain. First of all, a villainess almost always has some sort of magic power to make life heck for everyone. Bad guys can often get by with just a warped mind, but bad gals pretty much need some sort of superatomic mystical force to get anyone to take them seriously. The other thing that sets them apart is that they are usually motivated by some sort of personal revenge factor rather than a general I-really-need-to-rule-the-entire-universe-to-be-happy philosophy.

CREATING SIDEKICKS AND MINIONS

The next set of characters important to a story are the back-up characters. Every hero usually has a sidekick to help him out. Even if your hero is a loner, he will eventually need to get some sort of computer whiz to hack into the villain's mainframe computer or something. The hero's sidekick can be just about anyone who hangs out with the hero for more than a paragraph. He can be a friend, a relative or the pizza delivery guy who got roped into the hero's problem when the hero jumped into his pizza delivery van to escape from the bad guy. But the most important function of a sidekick is to listen while the hero explains to your readers why he needs a pepperminto slushie in order to defeat an evildoer.

A minion is the sidekick to the villain. There are two types of minion. The first is the really dumb sort of hunchback who can't get a job anywhere else. And the second is the super intelligent genius that nobody can figure out why he is working for a criminal when he could get the Nobel Prize for physics. Archvillains spend at least 90% of their time explaining their plot to take over the world, so a minion is actually more important than the hero's sidekick is. Also, sinister fiends rarely actually do anything. If someone needs to be tortured, kidnapped, eliminated, interrogated, intimidated or needs to have their NeoHome ransacked, the bad guy sends someone else to do it. So if your story is missing at least one minion, your villain is going to be too worn out from doing everything himself to take over the world.

CREATING PLOT DEVELOPERS

I have decided to call this category of characters "plot developers", but the technical term for them is actually "others". Plot developers are key characters that do something important, but either only show up once or rarely show up at all. Since there are so many variations, I will give you a sample of certain familiar plot developers.

Technical support: Let's face it. The hero doesn't know everything. Sooner or later he is going to need information on something to help him defeat his archenemy The library Faerie that suggests a good book on "How To Build Your Own Radioactive Muffin-Powered Submarine" is a good example of technical support.

Legal support: After sixteen chapters of the hero being harassed by the villain and finally conquering his evil foe, the Chia police show up to take the bad guy away. That's an example of legal support.

Moral support: Sometimes the hero needs advice from someone besides his sidekick. Often the hero asks this person a hypothetical question such as, "If you accidentally waved a magical artifact over the Faerie Queen and changed her into a Mortog but then the magical artifact broke and now every Faerie in Neopia is out to get you, would you move to another planet or try to fix the broken magical artifact?"

Salesmen: This category is almost the same as "technical support" except that salesmen sell the hero books, equipment, weapons, rare items and magic amulets that the hero needs. The reason the hero buys this stuff is that the salesmen have convinced the hero that he needs it because the salesmen have told him a really creepy story first.

This is just a basic idea of what kinds of characters plot-developers can be. They are usually only tossed in to do something to make the story more interesting or to explain something important to the hero. Hot writing tip: do not waste a lot of descriptive adjectives on these guys.

So there you have it. The different types of supporting characters you will need to make an adventure story interesting. As long as you remember that the plot of a story centers on the characters of a story, you'll do great. Because when you get down to it, all the good story plots have already been written. But each unique, even slightly odd, set of characters can make a story seem fresh and new. Just remember that the Chia police need to show up AFTER the bad guy has been defeated or your hero will look really silly.

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