When it comes to characters, especially minor characters, it can be a challenge for writers to think of them as they should appear to do, themselves. Stick with me on this one – the thing is, minor characters don’t ‘think’ of themselves as minor characters and nor should they. In order for them to seem believable, they need to have backstories and lives like everyone else. The readers don’t need to be aware of this, but writers most definitely do.
As with many other things that overthinkers like me think about, I attempt to project this notion onto everyday life. Every person we come across, is a major character in their own circle, and yet we don’t often think about it. Everyone has a backstory and full lives of their own.
Don’t misunderstand, if you’re anything like me, I don’t departmentalise my life or friends within it. I don’t label some people as work friends, some people as school friends, or other people as friends of friends, etc. When you come to a future party of mine, I’ll likely consider you as a friend, and you’ll meet my other friends, whom I may have met absolutely anywhere. It’s the extrovert in me.
No, an example might be the neighbours next door who you’re not that acquainted with yet. I don’t always pay as much attention, but my husband knows everything that goes on in the neighbourhood, especially the obvious things – the comings and goings of those across the street. We know some of them by name, but not all. Some neighbours have become known to us by their most common behaviour or attribute. It’s not a perfect system.
And you know what? If I was a betting person, I’d say that they’re doing exactly the same what we’re concerned. Why wouldn’t they? It’s human nature. Although, one thing they’re probably not doing is wondering about our lives, any more than a fleeting thought that comes to them. That trait is likely reserved for writers and… no let’s be honest – probably just writers.