We examined main characters yesterday, so how about we consider minor characters for a brief moment? Many of the different writing books I’ve studied warn about letting minor characters take over your story. ‘Keep them in control,’ the seasoned author warns. ‘Don’t let them overshadow your main character.’ Geesh, you’d think they were weeds.
I do agree that one should take care with the time apportioned for lesser roles, but I also think that the nice thing about a story’s secondary set of characters is that unlike the main hero, these folks don’t have the burden of moving the story forward. This, I feel, allows authors more liberty in their development.
All the fun quirks that just wouldn’t work on your main character can be assigned to various minor characters. For instance, I doubt readers would want to suffer through an entire story of reading about a hero with a nervous twitch, but it admittedly makes for a nifty detail on a minor character.
Do you have any guidelines to offer on minor characters? Words of warning?