Welcome to the sixth in my series of mini tips videos and blogs all about side characters. There are just two days left until the launch of 8 Steps to Side Characters. Today’s mini tip is all about the different types of side characters. Specifically, cameos, minor and major side characters. This structure will help you manage your minions going forward no matter how big your cast gets.
Did you know there are three types of side characters? Lots of people use archetypes to describe characters but I don’t think that’s as helpful as breaking down side characters into their impact and importance on the story. The three types are:
- Major characters
- Minor characters
- Cameo characters
Cameo characters are fleeting and brief, they don’t need any depth, they open doors, stand guard etc. Think Stan Lee and his brief appearances in the Marvel movies. They usually have some standard label like “guard” or “girl with the teddy” and they don’t always have dialogue.
Minor characters appear more often, but they still don’t really have an impact on the story or protagonist save for transactional exchanges. Maybe they’re the barman in the pub the protagonist regularly frequents. Think Mr. Filch in the Harry Potter series, or Wheezy from Toy Story 2. They don’t have subplots and they don’t have character arcs.
Major side characters are the big guns of characters. They are likely to have subplots and character arcs, they have an impact on both the protagonist and the story and they probably have a chunk of backstory too. Think Morpheus in the Matrix or Gandalf from LoTR, Four from Divergent or Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
If you would like to dive into more detail about the three types of side characters as well as their impact on the story and what you need to do to make them as effective as possible, then you can by pre-ordering 8 Steps to Side Characters.
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