Make your Minor Characters Memorable


I received this critique the past week in regards to four minor characters in my novel. “A lot of new characters have been introduced and they all run together in my mind. I think more time needs to be spent developing these characters as individuals rather than some generic group of friends.”

I didn’t provide much description of the characters, because they were only in one full chapter and part of another. I didn’t think descriptions were necessary. They served one purpose and one purpose only. They did their job and disappeared.

Well today I was reading my newest edition of  Writers Digest, and bumped into an article on Minor Characters. Maybe somebody is trying to tell me something.

According to Elizabeth Sims, If the person is important enough to exist in the world of your story, let your readers picture that existence.

When you introduce Minor Characters, you should have one or better two details.  He was as wide as he was tall, and talked with a lisp.

Even characters who exist in passing, should exist in the readers eye. For a literally glancing description, make it visual. The freckle faced boy stuck his tongue out at us, then turned to go inside.

If you have a group-Pan the crowd and then zoom in. Give one or two details describing them all, and then move in to one person as the representative.  The demonstrators walked down Main street, waving their signs, and shouting obscenities.  “Where is the Mayor, ” shouted a tall gray haired man at the front of the line.

So there you have it. I guess I need to go back and give my Minor Characters some life 🙂

-Jan R


Make your Minor Characters Memorable

One thought on “Make your Minor Characters Memorable

  1. I can’t help but think of Harry Potter, particularly the scene where he sees images of all his family, and only identifies them by the characteristic he shares; same eyes, ears, wobbly knees.

    Recently I read about an exercise where you write out a list of 4 similar things, and then a 5th that is dissimilar, but not opposite. For example, 4 types of fish, and the fifth is a flower, or a condiment, but not a bird or land-bound animal.
    The idea is to create things that send a person’s thoughts sideways, rather than creating a linear/gradient relationship. I feel like that could work well with minor characters, giving them two characteristics that have that sort of oblique relationship, rather than “very similar” or “polar opposite”.

    Liked by 1 person

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