I'm doing a great job of procrastinating today. I need to reread the Twilight series to prep for the article I'm contributing to a forthcoming Blackwell anthology on the role of history in Twilight. My particular article focuses on Jasper, and I think it will be an interesting experiment to read a novel with an eye to a supporting rather than the main character.
Supporting characters often make or break a book for me. My own supporting characters are just as vital, if not more, than the MCs. I get frustrated by stories where friends or family appear only as back story or plot movers. I like severe entanglements, startling twists, and key events tied into the lives, hopes, and fears of supporting characters.
My investment in a novel, and particularly in a series, rests in how much I care about what happens to the other characters in the book and not just the protagonist.
Case in point: Harry Potter. My favorite characters in the Harry Potter series are probably Fred and George Weasley, with Hagrid coming in at a close second.
Supporting characters with that much dynamism fill out a world and draw the reader in.
Do you have favorite supporting characters? How do you treat supporting characters in your own writing?
On a final note, Joss Whedon finally made the comment I've been waiting for.