1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

    Jan 28, 2014
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    On Showing Proper Respect for Your Minor Characters: A Confession

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Catrin Lewis, Oct 28, 2014.

    In the process of revising my old romance-thriller novella I've completed the re-write to a little past the point where my protagonists confess their mutual love.

    After this in the original typescript comes a kind of bridge section leading up to the final playing-out of the thriller plot. So the other day I was re-reading that part to see what I need to do with it to thicken the plot(s) and keep things boiling.

    For some unknown reason, I have my lovers keeping their romantic relationship secret for months after The Big Revelation. There's a scene in there where my hero's on-again, off-again girlfriend drags the heroine out to lunch to cross-question her about the hero and his relational plans. OK, fine, I'll keep that in my revision in some form. But I was gobsmacked to see that I had my hero, five months after he's pledged the heroine his exclusive, passionate love, still going out on dates with his former girlfriend! And letting her think he still belonged to her! All while I'm expecting the reader to believe that my protags are definitely The Couple!

    Aaaaarrrrghhhhh! Use his old girlfriend as a blind? Two-time his real love? For a secrecy that's unjustified? He wouldn't dooooooo that!

    But I did. How could I?

    Easy. I didn't consider the old girlfriend as a real person living in the world of my story. She was just a prop. A catalyst. Something to make things happen when I needed them to happen then be put back on the shelf. To my writer's mind she had no feelings and no one owed her anything.

    I'm happy to say that long ago I sketched out a scene where my hero tells the heroine, shortly after they've come to an understanding, that he's going to break it off with his old girlfriend for good. But even that was a plot device.

    A thread currently running on this forum asks how your characters become real. Uh, maybe by treating the other characters as real?

    Has anyone else here discovered you were failing to respect your supporting characters? What did that do to your story? And did you catch it in time?
  2. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

    May 8, 2014
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    Washington, DC, USA
    I wish I could help but I have the opposite problem - every side character I design as a prop becomes too vivid and demands their own role in the story. I'm constantly having to tell them, "No! The cast is too big already! You can't have your own character arc right now!"

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