Developing Your Minor Characters
Every author understands the importance of developing their major characters because the book’s success revolves around how well your readers will relate to them. Without adequate personality development and background, your characters will fall flat and your readers will be left unengaged. However developing minor characters is another story. These characters are harder to develop because it can be more difficult to determine where to draw the line between spending too much time on them and not spending enough on them. When you do start develop them, keep these tips in mind:
1. They need some background time too. Think of strong minor characters in books and you’ll find they all have one thing in common: you know something about their lives. For example, take Ron Weasley from Harry Potter; you know a little about his back story and you love him all the more for it. Readers have to be able to feel the connection between the protagonist and his sidekicks; otherwise the sidekick becomes an awkward addition.
2. They have to have some distinct personality traits. If you don’t spend time developing somewhat of a personality for your minor characters then they won’t end up being memorable to your readers, and if they aren’t memorable what’s the point in adding them into the story? Give them some distinctive personality traits so that your readers can easily connect who’s who while they’re reading.
3. You shouldn’t get too wrapped up in explaining them. There is a fine line between developing your minor characters and explaining them so in depth that they end up turning into a competing major character. Your minor character needs time spent on him, yes; however you don’t want to give him an equal amount of time to your major characters.
4. You can’t have too many competing minor characters. Every protagonist will have a few relevant supporting characters, however there can’t be so many minor characters that you end up spending more time with them then you do your major character. Give your major character a sidekick or two, develop some family members, and have a few people who give recurring appearances, but don’t be so overrun with characters that your readers have a hard time following who is who.
Your minor characters are what help color the storyline past the major character’s end goal and give the whole story extra flavor and personality. They need time and development to establish a solid place in your book, but not so much time that the lines begin to blur between who the protagonist is and who the sidekick is. If you find that your minor character is competing with your major character, it may be that the minor character is in the wrong role. Spend adequate time with your characters and give each the attention they deserve; after all, each has their own distinct role that shapes your story.
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to become a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.