Making minor characters interesting



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  • Making minor characters interesting

    What are some of the things you do to keep your minor characters from being bland or just expository?

    I have the opposite problem, some of mine try to take over the story.

  • #2
    I sometimes try to think of opposites. For example, if the character is a checker in a supermarket, what kind of person would you NOT expect to find doing that job? A rastafarian? An ex-amateur boxer?

    Also, I think you just need to flesh them out and create their backstory. What's their opinon of the other characters? Of politics? Where did they grow up? What do they dream of being someday? Who was their first crush?

    If your minor characters are taking over the story, maybe you are making them too "colorful" instead of just real. I'd still ask all the same questions but throw away all the outrageous answers and try to create simple yet layered people.


    • #3
      At the risk of making the script-writing process even longer, I come up with biographical profiles for minor characters -- and end up using, maybe, 2 percent of it in the work itself. But I find this helpful because I can use this background to influence the dialogue I write for that character. The end-result, hopefully, is a character who is memorable, adds substance to the story, yet doesn't take away from your main players. Gary Busey in "The Firm" is a good example that I've seen.


      • #4
        Minor League

        When I list my minor characters, I always assign them one quote, one line of dialogue that could sum up their entire character.

        It's easier than it sounds.

        Think about what they might have as a senior quote in their high school yearbook, or what they would choose to be at the beginning of an autobiography. From this, you can create a profound bit of dialogue or action in your film.

        An example:

        A domestic violence scene. The apartment is in shambles as a man treats his wife like an Everlast. A knock on the door interrupts his assault. When he answers, a bloodshot, foggy-brained neighbor nonchalantly asks, "Couldn't you beat her at a more decent hour?" The epitome of apathy, in a single sentence.

        -- Gore


        • #5
          Just pretend that Steve Buscemi is in the role.

          Your pal,


          • #6
            One way to...

            ...make a minor character interesting is to work with the meaning of the name you give the character. I have a minor character, Hadar, who's name means beautiful ornament. So, hmmm....she's very vain, but what is she vain about? Why not her hair. Guess what my protagonist saws off in a two minute scene? Hadar's braid.

            In a later scene, my protagonist uses the braid to taunt Hadar with.

            Why do these talks always come back to the name thing?



            • #7
              Re: One way to...

              The protag isn't naked Loki, by any chance?