How to write a minor character

Minor character

There is no truly minor character in Toy Story in terms of impact

Most novels or screenplays contain at least one minor character. This is a character who serves the plot in some important way, but who does not warrant the time and space required to develop him into a major player.

One of the pitfalls of crafting minor characters is that they can easily slip into stereotype or cliche, possibly because writers tend to create such characters more out of necessity than passion. Yet, such pitfalls are easily avoided.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the function of the character in the scene you intend to write?

2. Can this function be performed by an existing character?

In deciding this, consider whether this is truly a secondary character, or a bit-part player. Bit-part players occupy brief moments in a story and need not be extensively fleshed out. What is this character’s relationship to the plot? Is it simply to convey new information, or is the character emotionally linked to the protagonist or antagonist? If emotionally linked, he/she/it is a minor character, rather than a bit-player.

3. What is your minor character’s background — upbringing, education, occupation? Her background will influence her style of dress, body type, body language, dialect, speech idiosyncrasies, hobbies, unexpected interests. The latter are markers which, in the absence of deep interaction and complexity, grant a minor character uniqueness at a glance.

The Minor character in Toy story

In the film, Toy Story, the Dinosaur and Mr. Potato Head are minor characters who are uniquely differentiated through their speech, appearance, and psychological make-up. The Dinosaur is timid and nervous, while Mr. Potato Head is irreverent, bold, and sure of himself. They are as different from each other as Woody is from Buzz Lightyear. They are a wonderful illustration of coulorful and interesting characters made so through broad strokes.


Create interesting minor characters by infusing each with physical and psychological traits that manifest in unique dialogue and behavioural patterns.

2 thoughts on “How to write a minor character

  1. robin petro

    When I think of minor characters that are interesting in their own right I think of the Great Gatsby. There are 2 minor characters in the novel that are fleshed out in a way that makes them interesting. Also, it makes us question what the narrator is saying because we see his flaws.

  2. Gerhard Pistorius

    interesting post . Its a simple case of having someone throw a pie in someone’s face in the background or helping a old lady( who we never see more then once) cross the street. Ever character cannot have the same significance . It is especially challenging for features given a limited running time . In Martin Scorsese’s Good Fellas as well as The wolf of Wall street minor characters are given as little as one time scenes where in the main protagonist gives a very brief introduction of their backgrounds. Good television is where it gets interesting. In Gotham the character Ivy has a minor role in season 1 : She’s the powerless victim when her father is framed for the murder of the Waynes. By the end of season 3 she is one of the main allies of the main antagonist Penguin.

    In shot : in films the most minor characters can for fill their purpose in one single scene where as in a series their purpose can be reserved for a rainy day.


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