Character Development 2: Extraneous People

This one will be short, I think. I’m not sure if it should go under Common Mistakes or not, but I’m putting it here.

I’ll get right to the point: look at the characters you’ve created. All of them. Pay particular attention to the secondary and tertiary characters. If you have two characters that provide the same function, one of them has to go.

It’s that simple. Let’s say your main character has two best friends who stick by him no matter what. They have the same skills, roughly the same attitude, and neither betrays him. That should be one character.

The MatrixJust look at all the nameless yahoos who died in the first Matrix movie. That all should have been one character. I’m sure you can think of a lot of movies where multiple characters seem flat all at once (a lot of fantasy movies / books are guilty of this. If a hero leaves with a team of 12, only 6 get developed… So why weren’t the extra 6 exited out in the second draft?)

Another topic in this same vein is: if you have a secondary character that steals the show, get rid of them.

This is onl y true of single-lead stories. But if your lead character is constantly getting upstaged by a secondary one, that’s bad for your narrative. You need to make a choice: either get that character out, or make the story about them. I suggest taking them out and saving them for another project, but that’s just me. I like recycling. 😉

Anyway, so that’s some things to think about character. Hope it helps those who need help, and if that’s not you… Why are you reading blogs? Go write something. I can’t wait to read it.

Never Look Back
Matthew LeDrew

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