If you have never rolled your eyes at a minor character, who has ideas above their station, and then found yourself shouting, through your laptop screen, “will you stop being such an attention grabbing minor character!” – you haven’t lived!
Some minor characters are born into your story knowing they are never going to be centre stage and make it their fictional life ambition to change this. So frustrating!
If you let things get out of hand with one of these minor characters, before long, you will be changing the direction of your entire book to suit THEM! Just watch out for those filthy looks and death stares from your main characters.
There’s nothing worse than trying to write a scene and being distracted by some diva of a minor character who believes you made a big mistake when main character roles were handed out.
I feel so strongly about this subject that I am going to provide you with some useful tips on handling an attention seeking minor character:
We need to remind ourselves of the roles a minor character can play.
Here is a list of what I see these to be:
- To teach us something about the main character.
- Give the reader vital information which helps move the story forward.
- In some stories minor characters can be a source of humour and liven things up.
Here is a list of what minor character should not do:
- Stick their fictional nose into scenes where they are not needed.
- Try their best to do the exact opposite of what you want them to do.
- Steal the limelight away from main characters.
- Shamelessly flirt with the writer! Don’t get me started on the dangers of creating attractive minor characters…
So with all this in mind how does a writer control a minor character who is intent on running the entire show:
- Remember minor characters can turn into ‘sparkly objects’ – especially when things get tough in our stories. It’s no surprise after hours of sweating over one particular part of your story you can find yourself getting side tracked by someone new, fun, energetic and desperate for your attention. Acknowledging this issue is usually a huge step towards taking back the power.
- Think about whether your writer’s intuition is trying to tell you something with this attention hungry minor character. Is there a reason why you are being pulled in another direction? Is this character actually trying to help you? Should you follow them down the rabbit hole? (I like to say yes a lot to following handsome male minor characters down rabbit holes – sigh!)
- Think about why they are stealing the limelight away from your main characters? What is it about this minor character that catches your attention? Do they have a stronger voice than your main character? Do they have an interesting flaw? This ultimately leads you onto thinking about what your main characters are lacking.
- Undertake a minor character audit and note how many times they ‘pop’ up throughout your story. If they are doing what I call scene hogging – scale back their appearances. Always ask yourself – is this minor character adding anything to this scene?
- Make your main characters more compelling. Use whatever magical formula you sprinkled over your writing when creating your attention grabbing minor character. Upgrade your main characters with interesting flaws, stronger voices and unusual appearances.
- Ditch your dull main character and give in to the demands of your attention seeking minor character. This is a bold and crazy move but maybe you are missing a trick here. A word of warning – once you give in to these diva like minor characters, you will become a slave to them.
If any of my readers are currently tussling with a fame hungry minor character – please stay strong and don’t be afraid to take back control.
I am here for you – if you feel the need to let off some minor character steam.