You may be in the plotting stage or on your third round of revisions, but it’s not too late to enrich your story’s plot or add more content by rounding out your supporting and minor characters.
You encounter people every single day, and they all have their own lives, challenges, beliefs, and history. Your characters, no matter how incidental, should be exactly the same way. They should not feel forgettable, interchangeable, or incidental (even if they are incidental to your plot).
Setting will have the biggest impact on your characters. If your setting is based on a real location, I would look up the demographic makeup of the area during the period your story is taking place. You may discover that this seemingly-arbitrary place on a map you chose is close to an Air Force base or has a large Jewish population, both which would influence the behavior and values of the people living there.
Food for thought:
Whip out a piece or paper or open a new file in your word processor, and jot down the following notes:
- Character’s name:
- Approx. age:
- City/Region of origin:
- Family background:
- Character’s relationship with MC(s)/antagonist:
- How character contrasts with the MC(s):
- How character complements the MC(s):
- Brief history:
Keep an eye out for your characters having too much in common, especially physical features.
You don’t need to include any of this information in your actual text, but you do need to determine how it would impact each character’s behavior, mannerisms, speech, and core beliefs.
An easy method:
Investigate colloquialisms of their region of origin. For example, Thatch is from northern Colorado and says “You betcha” as an affirmative. To contrast, Heather says “Yessir,” coming from a Georgia family with a military background. Many Stephen King novels are set in Maine and have the characters say “Ayuh.”
The best advice I had ever received was to listen to podcasts or watch vlogs of people from a specific region. Look up a couple of local news stations.
Steal. Especially if your characters are modelled directly after someone. If you know them IRL, hang out with them and make notes. If they’re celebrities or fictional, read and watch interviews and steal their mannerisms, manners of speaking, style, likes and dislikes, etc.
Teach and Share:
If you have or know of a great characterization chart, a different trick for better-rounded characters, or a must-have detail, share it in the comments below!
If you followed these tips, let us know how it went!
What is Jette up to?
- I am slowly, slowly making headway with copyediting a manuscript for a client. I’m hoping to finish that over the next few days, so I am putting everything else aside.
- Once again, I find myself with two WIPs: Assassin’s Accomplice, the sequel to Assassin’s Arrangement and the second Accomplice Novelette, as well as my first attempt at a YA dark fantasy, tentatively entitled The Shadow Comes.
- I received the initial editorial note for Two Guns, and my wonderful editor said it was shorter than what she usually sends, because the story is so solid. She did give me lots of tips on how to ramp up the suspense and bind the narrative tighter to COLOSSUS. I’m very excited and can’t wait to tackle those revisions.
Want more Avery Rhodes? Check out becomingcolossus.wordpress.com/