characters / writers tips

Writer’s Tip #32: Think of a Walk-on Character as a Hole in the Wall

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: the Walk-on character.

You know, the one who enters the story as a cameo–in the background like furniture. You notice him/her as part of a particular scene but with no particular purpose. I’m talking about the waiter, the doorman, the bank teller–the supporting actors who move your main characters forward.

Don’t describe them unless it adds to the setting or the plot. Here’s what I mean. You may describe the tight low-cut t-shirt of the Hooter’s waitress, but no need to discuss her sparkling blue eyes or her single-mom status unless she’ll be part of the plot. Don’t confuse your readers. Don’t get them vested in a character or trying to remember details that won’t add to the storytelling experience.

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