Thursday, September 5, 2013

Your Supporting Cast of Characters

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Just two more work days until the weekend! I hope you all have something awesome to look forward to. Today, I'm talking about your supporting cast of characters. These are the folks that make your world seem real, the ones your character will interact with on a limited bases, and/or minor characters we aren't supposed to give two shakes about. If any of you have downloaded my free PDF, A Novel Checklist, you'll know there's a whole section, printable on its own, to assist you in creating dynamic characters. But you can, and should, also use it for minor characters. Before I digress too far, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

There are three basic character types:



Major Characters are the ones your story is about. I'm sure, if you've been around the blog a while, you have a good idea of how to create awesome characters that your reader can connect with. So, I'm not going to spend any more of your time on those. If you haven't been around a while, you can catch up on all the posts on characterization HERE.

Moving on...

Minor Characters are the ones that support the major characters, but people your reader isn't supposed to care too much about. These folks may help move the plot along or be assistants to the big action, but they're always disposable. Now, I've had minor characters assert themselves and become major characters, but they didn't start out "life" that way. These entities show up, perform one or two things in the plot, then disappear. We don't expect them to come back later and take over the spotlight.

Just in case they do, you should have a character bio on them.

Now, these characters can jump out of the story and yell, "Ta-da!" to announce themselves; but they should do what they came to do and get out. Make them eccentric, bigger than life, or obsessive. Readers will notice the person, expect action, and be glad when they leave.

Walk-Ons and Placeholder Characters are exactly what their name implies: temporary. They're background noise that allow you to create a realistic world. If you want them to be forgotten, don't give them a name and don't make them anything other than a stereotype. These will be clerks in stores, delivery drivers, mailmen/women, doctors, nurses, etc... Every person you'd find in the real world, that lives in the background and goes unnoticed, are your walk-ons and placeholders. Don't give them traits that make them stand out.

If one of your placeholders starts to make themselves a nuisance, cut them from your text altogether or change what it is about them that's making them like glue. Perhaps it's wardrobe choices, maybe it's a larger-than-life personality. No matter what it is, find it and eradicate the character. Don't give your reader unnecessary distractions.

I hope this gives you all something to work with. I'll be back tomorrow with some prompts to help your brain along.

What story have you read lately where a walk-on was overdone or a minor character stole the spotlight?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

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