A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Minor characters becoming not so minor

Has that ever happened to you?  A minor character you expect to play second fiddle to your main character suddenly steps up and demands your attention?  You find you like them better than you like your MC and even consider changing your story to let this minor creation take the spotlight?

I hope the answer is 'yes', because I know this has happened to me a few times.  I've got a couple stories that started out as something completely different but evolved into their present (roughly written or roughly plotted) form because of a minor character I fell in love with.  I've also written side stories that gave a secondary character his/her own storyline and their own chance on center stage.

In another one of my stories, a character who was supposed to be strictly in the background and only there to be the shoulder for one the MC to cry on has evolved into a major player in the story - to the point where she becomes closer to the MC than a lover or a parent.  She's become an incredibly complex woman who ultimately becomes the perfect partner for this MC.  She's the main force in keeping him from becoming a threat to the world...again.  It's not as complicated as it sounds but she was never meant to hold that kind of power.  She was just meant to be the kindly teacher who became a second mother to him.

Or how about Scat?  If you've seen my ONLY A NAME stuff, you know she's the main character of the story. Originally, Scat was a side character in a completely different story.  She was the slave who ran errands and carried notes for her mistress but that was it.  She wasn't even all that interesting - until I gave her the limp.  Then I wanted to know where the limp came from, where were her parents, had she been born a slave or as something else, etc.  Now she's the star of a book of her own, and her discoveries are pivotal in helping to change how an entire race is born.

For me, if a minor character is so demanding that I have to stop the story to take care of those demands, perhaps I was focusing on the wrong character to begin with.  Or maybe I should take a look at offering a side character a full time starring role in his/her own saga.  Either way, if a minor character wants more than a cameo I'll at least take a look at and listen to them.

What about you?  Has this ever happened to you?  What do you usually do when something like this happens?


  1. How neat to see how your secondary characters become primary ones in some cases!

    Oh, yes, this has totally happened to me. A couple of characters who weren't even supposed to EXIST now have the starring role in the sequel to one of my stories. It's always so fun to see what characters come out of the woodwork, and what characters are more important than I initially thought.

  2. This happens to me all the time! In one case I had two very minor characters who never even met each other in the first book meet up and become the focus of a second book.

  3. If a minor character starts taking center stage, by all means, let them and run with them! For whatever reason, they're more interesting than your main character -- a re-write may be in order, maybe not -- but either way, run with it.

    Take a look at the X-Men. "Wolverine" was originally a one-shot minor character in an issue of The Incredible Hulk. Fans loved him. Then he worked his way into the X-Men, still as a secondary character. Now he's the poster boy for the X-Men, a key main character in all the comics, games, and movies, including solo titles of his own!