Preparing for the Beast ~ Don’t Forget Those Minor Characters!

Characters are all-important.  Seriously.   If there is a book with a weak plot, unoriginal voice, or cheesy dialogue, I will still plug through it if there are good characters.  In fact, I would say that characters are the most important element of a book, if I had to pick just one aspect.  All this to say, pay attention to your characters during NaNo prep.  I’m pretty sure we all focus on our MCs, but don’t forget those minor characters.  While fleshing them out, here are two things that you must include about them.

1) Quirks.  Make them unique.  Give them hobbies, pet peeves, favorite phrases or lingo, weird obssessions, a distinct style of clothes, etc.  They deserve to be just as wacky, wonderful, and realistic as your MC.  Great writers have only great characters — not a great MC and so-so supporting ones.  Consider some famous minor characters — Reepicheep, Eowyn, Mr. Jaggers from Great Expectations (he always fascinated me, and he’s certainly quirky), or even Maximus and Pascal from “Tangled”.  All are memorable because of their unique mannerisms and traits.  Reepicheep is the talking mouse with a high sense of his own dignity, Eowyn is the princess (or whatever a Rohanian “daughter of kings” is called) trapped by her title and gender, Mr. Jaggers can scare the hardest criminal by raising his handkerchief and always bites on his right forefinger’s nail … you get the idea.  Make your minor characters colorful and intriguing.

2) Growth.  While your MC’s growth — whether it’s internal, external, spiritual, physical, mental, whatever — will definitely be the focal point of the book, have your minor characters grow, too.  By that I mean make them learn something, become more mature in knowledge and/or skills, and change in some way by the end (and hopefully for the better, though not necessarily).  This will make them more interesting and realistic.  Everyone loves to fearingacagewatch people step out of their comfort zones and achieve new things.  Obviously, your minor characters’ journeys won’t be in-depth or exciting as your MC’s, but include them all the same.  For example, consider Eowyn.  She learns to accept her womanhood and discovers what her real place in life is.  Her story is much briefer than Frodo’s or Aragorn’s, but she still matures and changes, adding not only to her as a character, but to the entire book’s plot as well.

Who are some of your favorite minor characters?  Do you have any other tips on crafting good ones?

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