In fiction writing, your story will have all sorts of characters: antagonist, protagonists, supporting characters and minor characters. The minor characters in your story can be immensely helpful to the development of your story.
Minor characters can help to show the reader your main character. Just as with supporting characters, you can show your reader your main character through your minor character's eyes, both their appearance and parts of their personality. A minor character might be helplessly in love with your main character or jealous of the main character's beauty. A minor character might be annoyed with the way the main character bosses him around. There are a myriad of ways that your minor characters can show your readers details about the main character.
In rare circumstances and only under certain conditions, you can even show your readers how others view your main character even if it's not an accurate view. For example, your main character might be accused of a murder he didn't commit and which the people in his town believe he is guilty of committing. In this instance, you can help show this through the eyes of one of his friends, a friend who isn't sure whether to believe in his guilt or innocence due to his own internal conflict between the damning evidence and his loyalty to the main character. In this situation, you can help show exactly how intense of a situation your main character is having to confront.
Minor characters can move the plot forward or create twists and turns within the plot. A minor character might decide to confront the antagonist on his own, because he has his own reason for hating the antagonist. This can result in his death, which could be another moment leading to the main character's negative view of the antagonist, or it could result in his capture, which will up the stakes for the main character. He might even win the battle, but at such a huge cost that the main character is faced with something even worse. Additionally, your minor character can make seemingly small decisions which can affect the main character or the main character's choices.
Minor characters need to be fully realized people, complete with flaws, idiosyncrasies and their own desires and hopes. Create a minor character to be a normal and imperfect human. Minor characters can sometimes take on very large roles within your story, so give them the same care and attention that you provide for your main character. And be prepared for them to try and take over the story, because they have been known to do that. Many stories have been written with main characters who once started out as minor characters.
This week's give-away is a Write About Life Tile Coaster. The winner will be chosen from the active participants of the challenge. Must be a signed-up member to qualify. The winner wil be chosen by a random number generator on April 28th, 2014 at noon GMT. (Winner may choose alternate colors of this item, including a version with photographic background.)