Publetariat Dispatch: Characters – Memorable Minors And Rounded Majors

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author Virginia Ripple talks character.

As I was test driving the Storybook software I downloaded a while back, trying to decide if it will be as good a writing tool as Scrivener,  I suddenly discovered that I have no idea what the difference is  between a major and a minor character. They’ve all just been characters,  with the exception of the protagonist and antagonist of course. Yet I  was being asked by this novel-writing software to decide who were major  characters and who were minor characters in my book, Apprentice Cat. A  little research later and I had my answer.

Memorable Minors

Minor characters  are usually flat, two-dimensional characters. They are the ones who  show up in a scene or two to help move the plot along, but don’t need a  complicated back story. However, just because a character has a minor  role over-all that does not mean the character can’t be memorable. Darcy  Pattison suggests four great ways to help create memorable minor characters without having to round the character out.

  1. An ailment such as a cold
  2. An unusual role
  3. An unusual job
  4. Distinctive facial features

Rounded Majors

Major characters  are well-rounded. They are the protagonist, antagonist and any other  character that needs an in-depth back story in order to fulfill their  role in the plot. Of course, rounding out a major character means giving  your reader some back story and that can be tricky. Ronni Loren has  some tips on how to “dish out back story in digestible bites” like using

  1. dialogue
  2. minimal flashbacks or memories
  3. character thoughts
  4. action in the story

Knowing how to create memorable minor characters while slowly  rounding out major characters can be hard work, but it’s a task worth  tackling for a great story.

What makes you remember a character?


This is a reprint from Virginia Ripple‘s blog.


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