Every story has ONE protagonist. Sure, there are stories out there told from the perspective of multiple characters, but every reader connects to a single character more than the others. They root for their success above anyone else’s.
That’s where the idea of a supporting character comes from.
Supporting characters are those that help us to see the protagonist better and function to bring out their qualities.
In her book, DIY MFA, Gabriela Pereiera explains a few archetypes of the supporting character. Those archetypes are the villian, the love interest, the BFF, the sidekick, the mentor, and the fool. It must be noted that not every character fits nicely into those categories, but can be under the umbrella of one.
My favorite supporting character archetype to write is the mentor.
I think the reason I gravitate toward the mentor is because this is a character whose wisdom and experiences help the protagonist to see reason. This character is helpful and is generally the type of person I would like to spend time with in real life. My current Work-in-Progress features a mentor character. He lends support and helps to showcase a softer side of a troubled protagonist.
The only thing I’ve had to be cautious of in the use of mentors is making sure that they don’t solve all the problems for the protagonist. Their purpose is to shed light on solutions, but ultimately the protagonist must learn from their selves how to overcome the conflicts of their tale.
The Ameri Brit Mom