This week’s video explains how clever authors create characters for the purpose of dialogue.
Video Transcription: Although many successful novels feature lone-wolf characters who face the world and its challenges by themselves, clever authors know enough to neatly sidestep the pitfall of leaving a main character without someone to talk to for the majority of the book. Sometimes these fellow conversationalists are varied and multitudinous, but, often, we find a more satisfying experience for reader and writer alike by creating a minor character who can consistently appear in scenes and engage in conversation with the hero. Robinson Crusoe had Friday. Sherlock Holmes had Dr. Watson. And, in Patrick O’Brian’s acclaimed naval series, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin had each other.
Because dialogue is usually more interesting than straight narrative, giving a character someone to talk to allows you to impart important information—spiced with a fair share of wit, of course—without boring readers. It also opens all sorts of interesting opportunities for conflict and characterization—since dialogue can tell as much about a character as his internal narrative and, often, in a subtler, more convincing fashion, since you are showing the reader the character in action.
If you find your main character spending large amounts of time by himself, without someone to talk to, consider giving him a sidekick. In my medieval novel Behold the Dawn, I supplied my taciturn main character with an irreverent, impertinent indentured servant who kept the dialogue going and the story interesting in ways I could never have accomplished without him. Creating minor characters who can spark against the hero to create interesting dialogue is one of the most delightful—and important—parts of writing fiction.
Related Posts: Who Said What? - Identifying Dialogue Speakers
The Major Role of Minor Characters
It's What Your Characters Do That Defines Them
Story by K.M. Weiland