Backgrounds of minor characters

Every character in a story is a person, someone who had a childhood, an upbringing, a family or lack thereof. He or she faced tough times or easy ones or a combination of both. Each one lived in a single place for a long time, moved around frequently, or spent time as a vagabond. Some of them play instruments. Others can sing. (Still others send their audience running to the hills when they try either.)

I “meet” so many people by writing. I try to see their world through their eyes, their beliefs, their experiences. Does she hate her mother for forcing her to become a seamstress, or does she hate herself for her own lack of skill? Does he blame his father for leaving, or does he think his family is better off without such a man in their lives? Does she dote on her daughter because she always wanted to be a mother or because her life was transformed when the child was born?

In a story with a massive cast or numerous people who only appear for less than a page, it’s difficult to give each one such a background. Then again, if it’s just a note in the back of your mind or on a scrap sheet of paper, is it so hard to write a sentence or two when you’ve already gone to the trouble of giving him or her a name?


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