Writing a Secondary Character Like Inigo Montoya

Writing a Secondary Character Like Inigo Montoya

"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." This is one those famous lines from movies that everyone knows and quotes. Inigo himself is a great example of a secondary character, which is why today we'll be talking about how to write a character like him. Spoilers for the movie ahead.

Give Them a Goal

Secondary characters need goals, and their goals shouldn't be to help the protagonist. At least not without a good reason, as we'll discuss in a minute. You need to give your secondary character their own personal goal that may or may not compliment the hero's goal. Having one that will actually put them against the protagonist at points can actually add conflict.

Inigo's goal is to find the six-fingered man and kill him. He has his own personal vendetta. Because he's working as a sword for hire so he can pay the bills, he has to fight Westley. That puts him at odds with Westley's goal, which is to find Buttercup. But later, when he discovers the six-fingered man is inside the castle, his goal lines up with Westley's, and he helps him get inside.

Give Them a Motive

What is driving them to accomplish their goal? That's your secondary character's motive. Dig deep for this. Is there something in their past that's pushing them forward? Have they been hurt somehow? The better backstory they have, the more compelling of a character they will be.

Inigo's motive for killing the six-fingered man is because he killed his father. And when little Inigo challenged him to a duel, he humiliated him. Inigo spent years training in swordplay so he could hunt down the man and kill him. His motivation is avenging his father.

Give Them a Personality

Think about your favorite secondary characters. Which ones stick in your head the most? The ones with good personalities, right? Your secondary characters need a personality that makes them shine (but not brighter than the protagonist). Without that, they will fade to the back of your reader's minds and be forgotten.

Inigo is well-mannered, witty, and determined. He's one of those characters that tends to steal the scene from the protagonist, called a foil. You should avoid making characters like that, unless you don't mind having your secondary character steal the scene. One of my favorite things about Inigo is his politeness. His and Westley's duel is the most polite fight you've ever seen. I love that scene.

Give Them a Skill

Your secondary characters should also have a skill of some sort, something to make them useful and special. Maybe they could be a baker or a healer. An excellent archer or an amazing wizard. Give them something that can help the hero or the plot.

Inigo's skill is his amazing swordsmanship. He can probably kill you in about ten seconds. In fact, he starts his duel with Westley with his left hand so it's not over too quickly. Normally you would reserve a skill that good for the hero, but in this case it works.

Let's talk! Do you think Inigo is a great secondary character? What tips do you have for secondary characters? Tell me in the comments.


  1. Inigo is the poster child of secondary characters. If anyone remembers Princess Bride, they usually remember Inigo. He's definitely one of mine - and my brothers - favorite characters from Princess Bride.

    Using Inigo as a case study is a great idea! Now I know how to make a good secondary character (and probably will use this post fairly often in the next couple of months for my WIP!)


    1. He is a big part of the movie, and one of my favotive characters. I also like Westley.

      I'm happy this post will help you. I hope your novel turns out well. :)

  2. He is a great example of a secondary character.
    My personal favorite characters from The Princess Bride are Westley, Fezzik, Vezzini (if that's how you spell it?? i can't remember), and of course, Inigo Montoya. :)

    1. All of those are great characters. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I love Indigo he is a favorite and a very good secondary character. Good secondary character are very witty and humorous. They stick in your head.



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