I’m delighted to have Choc-Lit author Victoria Cornwall here, as part of her blog tour. She’s sharing how she sees the role of the minor characters in her books. Newbie writers prick up your ears, there’s some great stuff here! Over to you Victoria:
The Minor Character and their major role
I am delighted to be here as part of my blog tour to celebrate the double release of the first two novels in my Cornish Tales series, the paperback version of The Thief’s Daughter and the eBook version of The Captain’s Daughter.
During the tour I have discussed the role of the heroine, the hero, the antagonist and the location or setting of a novel. Today I am going to talk about the role of the minor character. This may not sound very exciting, but the minor character has a major role to play.
The role of a minor character can vary in size. It may be small – in, out, then gone forever without even speaking a word, or larger – with dialogue, feelings and a role in the plot.
I like to call the smallest role The Faceless Character as we, the reader, knows very little about them. However, they can add atmosphere to the setting and helps set the scene. In the first chapter of The Thief’s Daughter there is a gathering of people waiting for something. Their excitability and expectation tells the reader that something is about to happen. These characters are faceless. We don’t know their names or their backgrounds, but without them the events that will eventually unfold would not be so exciting or filled with tension.
Of course, these minor characters don’t have to be part of a crowd to have impact. In The Captain’s Daughter, we meet a minor character sitting in a pew at the funeral of her abusive husband. She doesn’t speak and is described as “a wilted flower that will eventually learn to bloom again”. We never see her again, but the vicar will think of her when he is having a conversation with someone about marriage. Would he be so concerned for the new bride if he had not seen the woman earlier? She played a role and heightened his concern, yet she did nothing but sit in the pew.
There are more important minor characters whose actions and dialogue do affect the plot. The landlord of the inn in The Thief’s Daughter is an important minor character. We know he has a daughter, a wife and that he is suspected of being involved in the buying of smuggled brandy. We know his name and what he looks like and we feel his anxiety, but outside this role we know nothing about him. Without him Jack would have no person to make contact with the smuggling gang. A relationship forms, but the landlord’s role is just a minor role, helpful to the plot, but not pivotal to it.
The servants in the Captain’s Daughter, adds to the atmosphere of the house. However, if they are not in the scene we do not miss them. Their minor roles and how they interact with one another show us that the third servant, Mary, is the more dominant of the group. Mary has a larger role, but she is still a minor character. Her actions add to the plot, but it does not drive it and the story does not grind to a halt when she is not in it. Yet the change in her behaviour through the course of the story, shows us something about the main character, Janey.
I often use minor characters to add humour and eccentricity to a plot. They can also be used to represent something. In The Captain’s Daughter, James Brockenshaw’s surrounds himself with his city friends who like to have fun. James seeks escapism and finds it with his pals. Those minor characters act as a symbol. They represent everything James wants to be part of and misses when they are not around.
So although minor characters sound uninteresting, they can provide depth, atmosphere, humour, symbolism and someone for the main character to bounce off. I was once told that film extras are like moving furniture, although they add atmosphere to the scene, you should not notice them. Minor characters in a novel have the same role. You do not notice or value them when they arrive in the story, but if they were not present at all, they would be sorely missed.
Here’s some background on our guest:
Cornish born author, Victoria Cornwall, can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century. This background and heritage has given her an understanding and knowledge of Cornish rural life which is the inspiration for her writing.
Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her time to write. Her writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction in 2014 and her debut novel, The Thief’s Daughter was a finalist in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.
She likes her romance books to have a strong background story but at the centre is the unmistakable emotion, passion and even pain of loving someone.
She is married with two grown up children.
And here’s some info about Victoria’s gorgeous books.
The Thief’s Daughter:
Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …
Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.
Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.
Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned …
Available from all eBook platforms and in paperback.
Paperback can be ordered from all good bookshops and online:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thiefs-Daughter-Victoria-Cornwall/dp/1781893977/?tag=victoria08-20
The Captain’s Daughter:
Sometimes you need to discover your own strength in order to survive … After a family tragedy, Janey Carhart was forced from her comfortable life as a captain’s daughter into domestic service. Determined to make something of herself, Janey eventually finds work as a lady’s maid at the imposing Bosvenna Manor on the edge of Bodmin Moor, but is soon caught between the two worlds of upstairs and downstairs, and accepted by neither, as she cares for her mistress. Desperately lonely, Janey catches the attention of two men – James Brockenshaw and Daniel Kellow. James is heir to the Bosvenna estate, a man whose eloquent letters to his mother warm Janey’s heart. Daniel Kellow is a neighbouring farmer with a dark past and a brooding nature, yet with a magnetism that disturbs Janey. Two men. Who should she choose? Or will fate decide.
Available from all eBook platforms
Find out more about Victoria here:
Thank you for coming on, Victoria! Your books are on my (admittedly huge) TBR pile.