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.