Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October #IWSG: No Character Left Behind

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html
 
I'm seriously late to the #IWSG party this morning. Instead of verbalizing the stress of a writer's life this month, I decided to offer a little bit of advice. Even with all of the ups and downs writing still remains my biggest passion.

In my finished WIP, I created a personality for each of my secondary characters. Some were quirky, funny, pranksters, annoying, smart-mouthed, you know, your typical teenager. I have two, I should know.

My writing mantra of "no characters left behind" was applied to all of my secondary characters. But I had glossed over a few minor ones. Those are typically the people who appear in only one scene and are forever forgotten. So I fixed the problem. I went back to each scene and created a personality for each of my minor characters. One of my previous chapters in my contemporary fantasy wreaked of a hurried, bored writer. Now, it's one of my favorite scenes in the entire story!



Whether your a newbie writer or a seasoned vet in this industry, it happens. Those minor characters get overlooked: gas station attendants, librarians, school nurses, lunch ladies. Even though they are very temporary characters in a quick and necessary scene, they are worthy of all your attention as a writer. Just as no two buildings are alike (okay, I'm stretching this a bit) and no two people are alike, so each person in our stories should be unique. Don't forget to breathe life into every last one of your characters.

Until next month!

Tell me if you've ever overlooked a minor character and how you fixed the problem. Are you enjoying writing this month? Call me crazy. I'm working on two new books!

35 comments:

  1. I have overlooked a minor character many times, but then I go back and fix it up. Its something all writers do.

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    1. It's wonderful we can revise and rewrite!

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  2. I've often overlooked minor characters in the excitement of the plot or MC. My latest WIP has been a crusade of sorts not to leave any character behind, but to give each a unique personality and breathe life into them. Great post!

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    1. Yes, I get caught up in my secondary characters and in my plot too! It helps to slow down and enlist beta readers--lots of them.

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  3. I've overlooked many a minor character. Trying to do better!

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  4. Good advice! I try to make sure all my characters have something to them, be them major or minor, but I'm sure I've missed a few. Now you have me feeling like I need to go back and check everything! This month, I'm prepping for NaNoWriMo, trying to work on my serial on my blog, and two short stories. Good luck on your books!

    - Madilyn Quinn @ NovelBrews

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    1. Thanks! I need to pick ONE to finish for NaNoWriMo.

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  5. I don't think overlooking characters is my problem. I ADORE my secondary characters, enough that I occasionally neglect my main characters. Sometimes the mystery of a lesser character is beyond intriguing.

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    1. I'm guilty of making some of my secondary characters shine more than my MC. I do love a good mystery, introducing a lesser character and then have them reappear later:)

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    2. Right? Sometimes they even get their own stories.

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  6. Characters are one of my favorite things about Stephen King's writing - no matter now minor they are, they still come across as very real.

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    1. Yes, the great authors do this very thing!

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  7. I love to give minor characters weird quirks for no apparent reason. Maybe they'll become important later, maybe they won't, but there something you can have fun with without the risk of screwing up something important later on.

    IWSG October

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    1. I'm debating whether or not to make this girl (aka the minor character I brought back to life) reappear later on in my book:)

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  8. Giving every character, even the one-sceners, a personality is a great thing to do. It's not fair to minor characters to get ignored. We all have a personality and so should they. :)

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    1. I was thinking the same thing. Everyone has a story and a personality. And if they don't have a personality, then play that up too:)

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  9. I'm trying to figure out a minor character who is only in one scene, but it's the first scene in the book, so I figure I should give him a bit more personality than I originally did. No one wants to be bored on the first page!

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  10. Lately I've been working on unnamed characters. I haven't given them much thought. Perhaps I should.

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    1. That's why I love the revision/editing process. Time to polish!

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  11. :D I have soooo many characters that sometimes coming up with unique personalities gets tough. Everyone that has a name does have a unique personality though! At least, I hope they do...

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    1. When I get stumped, I go eavesdropping and people spying. No one is safe.

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  12. Great point on not leaving minor characters behind. It's hard to keep everyone straight, so I find a virtual notebook to be worthwhile. And revisions. Lots and lots of revisions. ;-)

    Kelsie
    kelsieengen.com

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  13. What a great point! Now I need to analyze the minor characters in my books and make sure I gave them each a unique personality. I think I did, but I will now be more conscious of it! :)

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    1. I took my own advice and revisited a book I set aside. Now I'm fixing a minor character who was so obviously boring.

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  14. I'm going to look at my current WIP and find out if those secondary characters are cardboard or not. Great advice!

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  15. That's some great advice. I try to give all my characters a bit of a personality. In my debut, one minor character was so popular with readers, I had to bring him back for the subsequent books. Funny how even a minor character can take a life of its own.

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    1. I do love those characters that surprise you!

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  16. I love secondary and minor characters with plenty of personality. They make a story stronger.

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  17. Secondary and minor characters add richness to a story. It gives it life. In our everyday life there are minor characters we may only come into contact with ocassionally and interact with in brief spurts. Yet we remember them because they're not just props in our life. Stories would be the same. I really like your idea of not leaving characters behind.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  18. Good advice, Jennifer! I've had to go back before and add a little more description and pizzazz to my secondary characters.

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September #IWSG: Change Is in the Air

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the wri...