Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

Writing filter: minor characters

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve been poking and poking at A Marriage of Insects,
and rewriting more than I thought I was going to, and
noticed… The minor characters (the ones who get to say
more than a word or two) never want to stay minor.
Orpine is a mopey girl whom Boragette (major char) will not
get to marry, but she wants to push her relationship with
zir in ways I refuse to let the book go.
Count Fressis,
yesterday’s new character, was supposed to come in, perform
a wedding, ask a rude question or two, and leave quietly,
by way of setting a bit of background… but in that time he
proved that he was a good-hearted henpecked scatterbrained
nobleman, and more sympathetic than the Herethroy.
If I don’t give them names they’re somewhat more
willing to stay minor, like “Oostmarine’s Uncle” and “The

It’s a bit of a problem. Orpine and Count Fressis show up
in the first few chapters, which will be sent to editors and
whatnots. I’m trying to fix those chapters so that they
make the problems and conflicts of the book seem (1)
inevitable and (2) visible. These minor characters
sticking out are annoying, because they suggest other
directions that the book could be going, or at least other
plotlines it looks like it has.

But making a character less interesting doesn’t seem
like a good idea.

What would you recommend I do with these interesting minor characters, as a general rule, recognizing that each situation is ultimately unique.

Work to keep the minor characters minor, even if it means making them less interesting. The book is about the major ones, and that's enough aboutness for one book.
Leave them interesting. It helps make the world come alive.
Keep them, but make it clear they're not coming back to the main plotline.
Keep them, but use as few as possible in the sample chapters.
Keep them, and use their stories for later books in the series. ["Series??" -bb]
Keep them, but make sure that they get a second scene which resolves the first scene in some decent way.
Something else: See my comment.

You have the same problem with my minor characters:

You write fiction, but never have minor characters who say things.
You don't write fiction.

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