The Major Importance of Minor Characters

Just this morning I realized how very grateful I am to have what I had thought to be a minor character in a novel blossoming into something unexpected.

One works so very hard at making the lead characters smooth and consistent, (and it is an effort, especially in rewrite, to make sure their various histories, yearnings and foibles remain ‘in character’, even as the characters are changing, as they must change).

But the minor characters come in drawn with a few strokes.  Overdrawn is even better, so that they will stand out.  And the incredible wealth of back-story that the lead or leads have, can’t be done for each minor character.  This gives them a great deal of freedom.  This is possibly why – in my writing, anyway – they tend to take over the book.

It’s rather as if one had opened the door to let someone in, thinking they are delivering a package or fixing a pipe, only to find, later, that the figure in the doorway has redone one’s whole house.  Always making it better.

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