I’m reading the first published novel by a now-famous author all of whose later novels I have read. Clearly he improved as he went along.
What is most interesting to me is how much time he spends describing background scenes of the minor characters. And this brings up an interesting issue for fiction writers:
While minor characters should not be one-dimensional if at all possible, how much information do you really need to write about them?
Meanwhile, I just read the January 13, 2014, New Yorker piece by Rebecca Mead about the novelist Jennifer Weiner. The article mentions that she sometimes gets notes from her agent or editor about adding more flashbacks.
I am assuming that these recommended flashbacks are for the main characters and not the minor characters. While minor characters can add to the richness of a story, too much about them can impede the progress of the story.
And this is the problem I have with the novel I’m currently reading: Too many scenes of minor characters, too little forward motion of the story.
Finding a balance between major and minor characters is not an easy task. Of course, this is one reason why, as writers, we are always working on improving our craft.
Any helpful tips on creating this balance?
P.S. The New Yorker article on Jennifer Weiner talks about her defending the female main characters of her novel. This is something I have occasionally had to do for Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders, the protagonist of the thriller of the same name I wrote with my husband. Click here to read about Mollie on Amazon now.
© 2014 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON and the romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY.