Fear in Writing: The Minor Characters

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Minor Characters

Don't ignore them.  They can make or break a movie, a tv show, and definitely your book.  Take this episode of Castle.  "One Life to Lose" aired Monday, March 21st, with Jodi Taffel playing a soap opera fanatic.  Costuming certainly helped--jingly bracelet over cuff, curly hair wild like her eyes, long nails weilded like daggers.  But it is Taffel's timing and expression that steal the scene.  Check her out below at 10:24.

If a minor character has character, your scene can come alive.  A reader will laugh or cry with that character and exclaim, "Perfect!" if you pay attention to the little things and the little characters.  Just like the setting and the costumes and the framing can play essential background to the main characters, they can also play starring roles.

Let your minor characters shine through!  Do any favorite supporting roles come to your mind?


  1. Michele - Oh, you're quite right! Minor characters can add so much to a book. They can add interest, "spice" and lots more. And since I'm a mystery writer, I also think of what they can add in terms of giving clues, "red herrings" and so on.

  2. There wouldn't be much of a story without minor characters. Intrigue, clues, love nothing would move without them.

  3. Great acting, too!

    To me, it's the supporting characters that frequently add humor and spice to a book. Maybe they're someone we wouldn't want to spend a whole *book* with, but they're fun to add flavor to a novel.

  4. It's very true that minor characters are important. I do profiles for all my characters, including minor characters, so I feel I understand them before I write even one word of the story.


  5. LUNA LOVEGOOD! Oh, how I adore her. She brings a side to the Harry Potter books that is desperately needed when things were so tense. Someone who seems so odd and pitiable, but in reality has such grace and wisdom.

    You've sent me to watch that Castle episode! I catch it online after the fact, but i'd forgotten this week was the soap one (I watch those ABC Soaps, too, so this is a superbonus, and I LOVE the in-group game that Nathan Fillion got his start on One Life to Live--GO JOEY!)

    (great point today!)

  6. I sometimes feel it's easier to create stand out minor characters than major ones. I think it's the pressure. You know the focus is on the MC, so you can relax a little and have more fun with the minor ones. I find the little quirks come so much easier and naturally.

    Maybe I need to pretend my MC is a minor character until I get their characteristics down to a science! LOL

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse