What Is the Importance of Minor Characters?

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Minor characters typically have a brief or modest role in a story, but they contribute to the intrigue of the story or the development of main characters. Often, minor characters support the main characters or add value to the evolution of the plot involving the main characters.

Developing an effective minor character is often challenging. The minor character shouldn’t be intriguing enough or significant enough to detract from the main characters; however, the minor character must contribute something of value. In some stories, a friend or family member offers advice or creates tension for a main character. Best friends in a romantic story often compel the main character to act in a certain way. Without the role of the friends, the reader may struggle to see the compelling influence for the character’s actions.

Minor characters can sometimes add comic relief, a dramatic interlude or some other brief but compelling effect. Some minor characters have obsessive or eccentric personalities that endear them to readers. Brief, intermittent interactions between a main character and a minor character who is a colleague or acquaintance can add something of value. For example, in the 1999 film “Office Space,” the character Milton Waddams appears intermittently in the story, offering humorous lines and anecdotes to the broad message of office lethargy.