A guest post from Blake Crouch on minor characters.
Many times, when I’m stuck on a scene, I realize after the fact that the reason is because I haven’t truly thought through a new character I’m introducing. Every character, no matter how small, should steal the show.
Dixon says: Robert B. Parker had a special touch with those walk-on characters. Even if it's just a pizza delivery boy or a waitress bringing over a cocktail, everybody in the Spencer, Paradise or Sonny series got a few words of description. More than that, their descriptions and their actions/dialogue would subtly reinforce some aspect of the setting, the mood or the story.
To me, a story full of faceless tertiary characters smacks of lazy writing and missed opportunities. Unless they're zombies.