Writing Excuses 10.7: Who Are All These People?

Our character-focused month continues with an exploration of the challenges involved in building a cast for your story. Whether you’re building a large or small cast, you need to know why you’re putting these people in the book, whether they’re main characters, secondary characters, or spear-carriers, and what purpose each of them actually serves in your story.


Pick one of the dead-drop characters from the exercise two weeks ago, and turn them into a secondary character. Now take one of the characters with whom they interacted, and write the same scene again, but from this new character’s POV.

The Splendour Falls, by Susanna Kearsley, narrated by Barbara Rosenblat

8 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 10.7: Who Are All These People?”

  1. Ooh, this week’s assignment sounds really fun.

    And now, since I had a side character in one of my dead-drops give the original main character the eye a bit, I’m taking it as a challenge to add that last “MC is so dreamy” joke in and have it actually work in-context.

  2. I always think if the scene in Independence Day when the city is first blown up when I think if role. It represents all of humanity and role right there.
    We have the people you can’t see trapped in their cars or houses who are just there to make the destruction more sad, the friend of a main character on the roof of the building with her weird cult friends who die right away, the people we actually see who die on the street, then we have the main characters and their dog trying to escape the blast (by hiding behind concrete).

  3. Short story, heist, epic fantasy… there’s always people involved. But which one’s are just mobile scenery, which one’s have lines to say, and how do you decide who gets to be a character?

    Read all about it, right here! That’s right, it’s a transcript. Words for your eyes, instead of voices for your ears.


    Also in the archives.

  4. Just wanted to say I’m loving the master class theme for this season. I’ve identified and resolved several big issues in my current story with some of the advice coming out this season. Thanks. :)

  5. In my opinion best stories are these having few main characters with same amount of attention, same as in tv series – Breaking Bad is the king in making many characters at the same position.

  6. Make the antagonist a reader and lover of books. Instant sympathy.

    An example is Elend. I guessed he was the love interest because he was introduced with a book in hand. It was like Brandon was saying, “Like this person, he’s just like you.”

    You can really mess with a readers emotions by making the bad guy the one with the biggest library.

  7. I have a question about the prompt – should the dead drop character’s action from before be the main focus? I have a few secondary characters but they only briefly interacted with the ones doing the dead drop. Can I write their own story, not giving the interaction too much importance? Of course I can, but was that the point of the writing prompt?


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