Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #74

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.

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