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Minor characters are people too

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 30, 2019
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When my writing partner and I were penning the beginnings of issue 0 of The Constellation Chronicle we designed two characters Marcel and Wainwright. We wanted to introduce the looming threat that was barreling towards the main cast and the most convenient way to do that was through these two minor characters.

diymfa.com describes the objectives of minor characters as such:

1) Propel the plot forward.
2) Reveal information or give additional insight about major characters
3) Set the tone of a scene


Marcel and Wainwright certainly fulfil those objectives. They were two reconnaissance team members, investigating the mysterious signal that they received from a derelict ship. Once there, they discover strange and threatening monster and the rest is history. It was written simply and in a straightforward manner as there was a clear purpose in mind. However, they began to go wildly off script as we began to move them through the scene.

We became attached to them. Honestly we shouldn’t have name them. That was our first mistake. They began to weave their own quirks and backstories and when it came for their demise we were just as torn up about it as they were. But we learnt a valuable lesson.

Despite how minor a character is, that doesn’t mean they’re flat. They come in all shades which are often dictated by how much time you plan to spend focusing on them/having them present. Take some time to explore them a little bit and they might surprise you by how much they have to offer to your story.

Have you ever become attached to a minor character? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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comment

anonymous?

bravo1102 at 11:09AM, Sept. 1, 2019

If you read about any TV or movie series, there are all kinds of tales of one shot characters that are so popular that the producers and writers bring them back. Conversely, there are stories about the actor departing and the part being rewritten for a one shot character. A fair number of those one shot blonde female crewman in ST:TOS were originally for Yeoman Rand. The spunky Chinese female crewman was supposed to come back, but didn't. Klinger on MASH ws supposed to be a one shot as was the CID/CIA Major Flagg and the psychiatrist. Carlton the Doorman on Rhoda became a semi regular character and so many minor characters on All in the Family got their own shows because they made such big impressions.

hushicho at 1:35PM, Aug. 30, 2019

It's rare but delightful when characters assert themselves who otherwise might have slipped into the background and come and gone without much notice. Oftentimes background characters are just scenery or purely perfunctory with their presence in a story. There's a difference, which many authors don't consider, between background characters and supporting cast. N.b., they are not the same!

usedbooks at 12:57PM, Aug. 30, 2019

@Banes: My background characters often have more unique, quirky, and more intricate designs than main characters, especially if they have no lines. It keeps me from being bored when drawing them, and I figure I won't have to draw them again. (Unless I get attached. Then I end up with an important character with a weird, stupid haircut for 1000+ pages.)

Banes at 7:40AM, Aug. 30, 2019

Those minor characters can really pop sometimes - I find that I’m not thinking about making them likeable or fleshed out - in fact they’re there to create conflict much of the time, so they can be a bit sassy and abrasive and ‘out there’...which makes them more interesting than the leads sometimes!

bravo1102 at 5:10AM, Aug. 30, 2019

Im working on an ensemble cast of supporting characters who play different roles from comic to comic. Each comic is supposed to be movies often starring the same character playing a role. And many just come into the story to increase the body count of whatever threat is in the comic. They have one or two lines to define themselves and the plot or another character and then they get killed because I write gory stories. But the actor can always get another role and maybe even more lines next time. ;)

usedbooks at 3:52AM, Aug. 30, 2019

My minor characters become recurring and sometimes elevated in significance. It happens all the time. A background character I called "sarcastic cop" at creation is a very important member of the supporting cast now. And "apathetic henchman" is currently a crucial member of the main cast. (Yes, both have names now. The latter has a complex history as well.)


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