Minor Characters

Minor characters are sneaky.  They are necessary to the story but they aren’t supposed to take over.  The problem comes when one or more of them do exactly that.  So what to do?

Depends.  There are two kinds of minor characters.  You need to know which category your minor character belongs to before you can decide what to do about it.

The first category is that in which the minor characters flesh out the story, make it deeper, stronger and better. But if that character could be written out of the story without changing the story itself, then that particular character isn’t essential.  Rein them in, keep them under control.  Do it!

The second category is that in which the minor character is essential but isn’t the character that the story is about.  Same question applies.  Could you write that character out without changing the story?  If the answer is ‘no’ then you should think long and hard before you rein in that character.

Because your story just might be better for enlarging that character’s place and letting him or her take over a larger chunk of the action.

I’m thinking about this because, in my book Spirit Legend that’s going to be featured in a Book Blast starting the 8th of April (drum roll, please) a minor character took over and became a major player.  I didn’t know it was happening until after the book was finished.  It was the reviews that made it very clear that the character of the spirit in the lake was pivotal and important.  Reviewers used words like  ‘charming.’  ‘interesting.’  and ‘endearing.’  And the spirit only came into existence as a device to hang a story on.  Until it took over and I let it run riot because I couldn’t figure out how to rein it in.

Now that I’m deep into Wolf Legend, the same thing is happening to the character of the psychic wolf pup Snowball.  She was supposed to be an afterthought.  She now has a starring role and I’m glad to say that this time around I’m smart enough to recognize what’s happening and run with it.

So expect to see a lot of Snowball in Wolf Legend.  And I’m looking forward to seeing whichever of your minor characters take over and run with your story when you publish your next piece.

Creating Characters

A long time ago, I bought a book that promised to describe forty-five compelling characters that I could use in my fiction.  As I read it, I realized that I knew someone who resembled each and every character it described. And there were forty-five of them!  Wow!

But I realized something.  The author simply described eight basic personality types that can be found in any psych textbook. But each type could be either positive or negative, which doubled the eight to sixteen.  Then each of those sixteen types could become either major or minor characters, which doubled the already doubled number. And so on, until forty-five distinctly different fictional characters were fleshed out.

I thought, hey, if that author could come up with forty-five characters from a list of eight basic personality types, I could do the same with any similar list out there.  And there are several different personality type lists out there.  Just google the term and see what comes up.  Then do what that author did, consider each type from different perspectives.  And you, too, can come up with all the characters you could possibly ever need for all the books you ever intend to write.

Of course, there’s a caveat.  I read the book, enjoyed every page, then ignored it.  I suggest you do the same.  Because, though people truly can be categorized, everyone is unique.  So use the descriptions as basic guides, then flesh them out however you wish.  The resulting characters might resemble people you know.  Or people you can’t believe exist beyond your books.

Either way you’ll have wonderful characters to populate your wonderful stories.