I received this critique a while back 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.
Not long after that I was looking at Writers Digest and bumped into an article on Minor Characters. Maybe somebody was 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 🙂