Bit actors seem insignificant in films. They are largely there to fill in and help the stars pass from one piece of action to another by such means as selling them a plane ticket or serving them with food. In novels they can serve a similar function but in some cases they can come to an Author’s aid by resolving a tricky situation with the plot.
This happened to good effect in Peatmore Press’s novel, “Cogrill’s Mill”. Here the author brings back a minor character, Miranda Flit who has been removed from the narrative for some time, to help bring a satisfactory resolution to the story.
There is a tremendous temptation for the author to go back and build up the character’s role in the story particularly if he or she has helped him or her out of a jam. The author can become overly fond of the character, maybe more so than of the hero and heroine. But this is a bad idea. In film a minor actor can steel the picture from the star but for the author to let this happen a novel is a mistake.
However, it can be rewarding to develop such minor characters outside the story by letting them help promote the book. In this way the author is made to feel that their creation has not been wasted.
In Cogrill’s Mill a mediocre poet, Frank Witterworth, expounds on the virtues of the book in a mock celebrity interview on a chat show in a video trailer.
Minor characters are indispensable tools but they must be used wisely.