Recently someone suggested to me that the single entry of a character was not necessary in my novel, because they only appeared once and did not play a huge role. I beg to differ on this issue and here is why.
As a fiction writer and avid reader, supporting characters, no matter how minute the role, add different elements to your story. Think of a movie you’re watching and someone makes a cameo appearance. That appearance could be from a famous face or just someone who delivers pizza.
Think of the pizza delivery guy who only has one scene in the movie. He’s not famous, but his role is important because:
- The main characters are home and hungry
- They need someone to deliver the food
- Pizza is a meal that’s usually delivered
If the pizza guy did not make an entry that part of the plot would have to be cut or changed. Therefore, the entry of the delivery guy is important to the development of the plot.
Another scenario is a relative or friend of the main character who makes one or two appearances. These appearances add to the development of the main character.
Readers want to know about the main characters, their likes, dislikes, family, friends, what they eat, drink, how they sleep, everything they do.
So long as the single appearance of this character is connected to the main characters, or supporting characters, it adds to the plot.
Another reason to add these cameo appearances:
Think about everyday life and the people you encounter. People don’t necessarily live in a shell. If you are telling your story, especially a true to life fiction, it needs to be TRUE TO LIFE.
Your characters, the scenes and encounters need to be real enough for the readers to relate.
A couple of years ago I had the same discussion with several people about the exact same thing. I also had the discussion with another author who agreed with me.
The thing about this is, I have never met a reviewer who complained about a cameo in a novel.
Sometimes, even a stranger appearing once in the story is important to its development.
However, before you go and add all these less important characters, ask yourself what importance they add to the story.
In my case, if I’m writing a series, I like introducing minor characters who may end up playing major roles later on.
I have two examples of minor to major characters:
- In My science fiction series, Bijou appears once or twice in Awakening: The Prince of Nabalar. Her appearance may seem arbitrary now, but as a series, her entry is ideal because she will gradually develop as the series develops. She will end up being the love interest of the second prince. Instead of just dropping her in the middle of the series, readers will see her and get to know her.
- In His Sacrifice for Love, Latoya appears twice and may seem like an unnecessary addition. But think about it. Maggie moves in with her uncle. Her uncle has a girlfriend. Wouldn’t it be natural that this girlfriend has a personality, whether it be good or bad? Moreover, this person will appear again in the upcoming book. It would be an injustice to readers not to mention this character here and then suddenly drop her in book two.
Minor roles are a necessary addition to any story. Readers need to know what happens in the everyday life of the MCs, not just the interaction with H & h, but minor characters as well.
To develop your plot, all your scenes not necessarily have to include both H & h.
When writing your story, think of it as writing a television drama and all the elements it would include to make it real and engaging. The same rules apply to your novel.