Here’s a quote I came across yesterday — again — while cleaning my office. It’s from Scott Nadelson’s essay, “What About the Suffering?: the Quiet Power of Minor Characters,” which appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle in December of 2010 (and has been resurfacing in my office ever since).
“[M]inor characters are bearers of possibility, but they also bring into relief the impossibility of knowing what will come, the unavoidable mystery and uncertainty of living….The power of minor characters, then, lies at least partly in their limitations–they offer protagonists nothing concrete, only guesses, intimations. They may reframe a central character’s conflict, but in the end they hand it back to him to deal with himself.” (27)
There’s more (the opening paragraph and what it says to fiction writers is worth copying in full). But now I’m going to put this issue of WC in the recycle bin.