During my publishing journey, I discovered a divide between readers who like minor characters to have a more active role in the plot and those who don’t. Many times editors advised to decrease the page space given to said characters in favour of the protagonists; whereas readers expressed delight in the minor characters and their relationship to the protagonists.
Sometimes when reading a great romance, minor characters seem to get in the way. As a reader, we want to solely follow the hero and heroine because the story is so juicy! However, I notice that I tend to gravitate towards books that establish a world for the characters which includes other important people in their lives.
I thoroughly enjoy the relationships the main characters have with others. Siblings, parents, best friends all help me to perceive the main characters deeper – they don’t seem so one-dimensional. After all, no one exists in a vacuum. We all have people we interact with at different levels of intimacy and, in my opinion, showing a protagonist in the same light makes them more real.
Also, I find it difficult not to indulge particularly fun characters. Or, to set up their own stories for future books. It’s as if the protagonists of future stories reveal themselves slowly and it’s too much fun not to listen.
What side of the argument are you on as a reader of romance? Do you enjoy the development of minor characters and their use in adding context and texture to the story, or do you find them annoying and wish to solely focus on the hero and heroine when you’re reading?
5 thoughts on “Minor Characters”
Back when we used to have those fat paperbacks and stories could take time to unwind, minor characters were a necessity. Now, books are shorter, especially the ones just on Kindle. There isn’t enough space to develop relationships other than the main romance. I do enjoy the longer stories of old!
I have to admit, I love stories with minor characters that enrich the plot and the lives of the major characters. It feels a little fake to me when the major characters live in a vacuum – with no one else to help them navigate the world they are in.
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I agree with you and enjoy how the minor characters can show us aspects of the main characters. Having too many characters is always a nuisance, obviously, if they don’t have a function but one here and there is useful and entertaining.
I also love seeing the beginnings of their own stories which will feature in a novel down the road. Makes everything about the book more exciting. You are right, the minor character must serve a purpose.
I don’t read romance, but I do enjoy well-developed minor characters and even fun walk-on characters. All those interactions help the main characters seem more real.