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.