Sunday, June 3, 2012

Minor Character Magic

On a road trip out West, I stopped at a gas station and this scruffy little bird perched on the car wipers and refused to leave. It stared at me with bold, beady eyes until I started the car. Out of everything that happened on this road trip--watching the misty forests of Pennsylvania transition into the shining prairies of Kansas, and later, the sky-scraping mountains of Colorado--this cheeky avian fellow was one of the highlights.

The bird reminds me of the "magic" of minor characters and how they can add vibrancy to a story. For example, The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander would be incomplete without the character of Gurgi, the eccentric furry friend of Taran Wanderer. While Gurgi provided comic relief and tested the patience and empathy of Taran, he did not take over the story. I think this balance is important because sometimes a minor character becomes so much fun to write that the protagonist can become "dull" in comparison.

P.S. Does anyone know what kind of bird this is?

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