|Photo credit: Rubin 110 on Flickr|
And your characters are no different, or at least, they shouldn't be.
It seems like a no-brainer, especially when we're writing our main characters— most of are aware that we need to know their fears and dreams and all the little intricacies that bring them to life.
But what about our less important characters? I don't mean the second lead here, I mean the bell boys and bus drivers and bartenders that populate your world. Writing them tends to be a secondary thing— characters that arise out of necessity and convenience rather than careful planning and development.
But even our least important characters have their own personality, experiences and lives and if you aren't utilizing it, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.
Writing less important characters doesn't have to be boring— in fact if it is boring, you probably have a flat character on your hands that needs some revising. Let's take a quick look at a hypothetical example. Say you're writing a scene in which your male MC (Mike) and female secondary (Sara) are going to have a conversation at a bar downtown, so naturally you need a bartender. In your first round of writing you slap down Bartender A.
Bartender A is named Greg. He's butch and bald and over-muscled and smells like beer. He grunts when Mike orders his drink and hands his order over silently. Your characters have their conversation and are able to ignore Bartender A easily.
It could work. But it's boring. Let's try Bartender B.
Bartender B is named Rachel. She's young and pretty and smiles at Mike when he orders his drink and even flirts back a little when he says something flirtatious, which makes Sara jealous. A little better, but still stereotypical.
Bartender C is named Holland. She's in her late twenties and relatively attractive, but hides behind her rectangle glasses, stutters a little and ignores Mike when he says something flirtatious. She interrupts their conversation to ask Sara if she'd like a refill frequently but never asks Mike.
Then she leaves Sara her number.
We could go on and on with various bartenders, but I think out of the three we know which one is going to leave the biggest impression.
Every character you write has their own motivations, fears and desires and provides an opportunity be memorable. Are you using your minor characters to their fullest potential?
Who are your favorite minor characters? What made them your favorite?