Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Small roles

I'm starting to get feedback coming in from my draft. Overall it has improved from my previous draft and I'm starting to think about my rewrite.
One problem I'm still having is distinguishing my MCs friends from one another and also making them all important to the story. So I'm thinking about them today and making sure I know their motivations and arc through the story.

In order to think about these small characters I've turned to Shakespeare. In the play Romeo and Juliet there is the character Balthazar. The role isn't a very large role. He's listed as a servant of the house of Montague. In a lot of productions the actor playing Balthazar ends up in scenes with Romeo and his friends Benvolio and Mecrutio.

Balthazar may not have as many lines as Benvolio or Mecrutio but he's important to the story. Balthazar is the one who brings Romeo the news that Juliet is dead. He races to Romeo before the letter from the Friar explaining that Juliet isn't really dead arrives.

I've seen productions where Balthazar appears a little younger than the other guys in Romeo's crew. Like he's trying to hang out with this older, cooler crowd of party crashing guys. Even though his role is small he is important to the action of the story.

So as I'm thinking about the group of friends that surround my MC I'm trying to make sure they are all distinct and important to the story and not just a way to get facts out. I'm trying to make sure their motivations and arcs are clear.

What are your favorite examples of minor characters in books?


NiaRaie said...

I am honestly having the same issue in my draft, but using Shakespeare is an excellent tool b/c he always has so many characters that he manages to use very well. Great idea. Thanks!

Meredith said...

I'm doing the same thing as I revise--make sure the secondary characters are distinct, with their own voices and their own stories. Using Shakespeare is such a great idea!