Minor characters who are more interesting than the majors
edited: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
By Karen Harrington
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
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Major Vs. Minor Characters
My husband and I just watched the movie Failure To Launch. Actually, we had tried to watch it once before, but fell asleep before it ended.
My husband fell asleep during this viewing as well. (Perhaps Failure to WATCH would have been an apt review.)
The problems with this movie were many, but there was one character who was memorable. The story's romantic female lead (Sarah Jessica Parker) has an odd, insomniac roommate who is plagued by the mockingbird incessantly singing outside her window. This character is the object of affection for many men, but dusts them off like lint - until she meets someone equal to her oddness and they fall in love while trying to BB gun said mockingbird out of the tree. She is consistently dead-pan and emotionless and taken to arm-slapping others whilst her paramour is a hapless, rose wielding romantic. In other words, an interesting match.
The rest of the movie is sunk by the cliched boy-meets-and-loses-girl tripe we've seen a thousand times. So I wonder why this writer didn't explore the side story to a greater degree? This odd pairing who bond over dark mischief.
Watching bad movies or reading bad books can be instructive in this way.
This morning as I sat down to work on my current novel, I felt a tug toward one of my own secondary characters - an advice spewing teen kleptomaniac, who is blissfully aware that her parents ignore her. I realized she needed greater development. That I wanted to know more about her thoughts and motivations and why she was so comfortable being the wallpaper of her family.
So perhaps the formula should be turned on its head: go ahead and develop that story in your head and then reverse the major and minor characters and see what happens.
Perhaps you have some examples of minor characters that should have been the leads?