There are the good guys, the bad guys, the hero and the villain, but what about all of the other characters. The hero’s friends and family. Their supporters and their enemies. All the people they meet along the way.
If there are many side characters it helps to make them more memorable by giving them something that sets them apart from the rest of the characters. They could be really tall, have a large nose, or have a strange habit, something to get people to remember them. Make sure that everyone in the book doesn’t talk in the same fashion. Having an accent or speaking differently is another way to set off a character.
In real life there are people you don’t like, but they aren’t necessarily villains. In a story these characters serve the purpose of making things more difficult for the hero. There’s nothing wrong with a character that is neither a particularly good or bad guy. In real life there are plenty of people who fall into this category. Most people aren’t as good a person as the hero in a novel or as bad a person as the villain.
The trick to making characters seem real is to make sure they act consistently. They aren’t a steadfast supporter of the main character one minute and act against them the next. Everyone does things for a reason, explain their actions and motivations.
Some of the best books have great side characters. What are some of your favorite side characters?