~*~Warning. ~*~ I am about to rant. ~*~ Warning.~*~ It may involve spoilers ~*~Warning.~*~

I hate it when I can tell a character is unimportant just because of how the author treats that person. I first became aware of this when critiquing a friends novel. He sent the novel chapter by chapter, and I critiqued each one individually.

By chapter four, I told him, “I know X is supposed to be the Dark Villain of Doom, but he feels like a secondary character.” 

Turns out I was right. The author knew all along Dark Villain of Doom was really a shadow figure for the real bad guy, a suspiciously well developed secondary character I’d noted in chapter one. >_> (It’s a fabulous book now that it’s polished. I’ve no doubt it will be published one day.)

Graceling, a wonderful best-selling novel, also has this problem. By the time you get to the second chapter you know the king is an unimportant secondary character, just by the fact that there is absolutely no character building scenes what so ever. The only development of the king is by Katsa’s own thoughts and dialog such as “Oh what will the KING say?” “Oh, the KING is so SCARY.”


A more complex version of this same problem is Alice in Wonderland 3D. The white queen is a completely undeveloped, flat, unsophisticated character in the world.  (Who annoys me by holding her hands level with her head in every single scene. Blah!) Watching the movie, I was totally unmotivated to help her, even though she was good. You were simply supposed to take it for granted that since she was the force of good, you naturally wanted her to win.

More confusingly, the red queen was very well developed, and the author took pains to make us understand why she did the things she did. We are then given a token “villain” development scene and a bunch of floating heads, and that’s the end of it. She’s kind toward people who are considered oddity’s. She treats her prisoners well. The only villainy is the frog scene and the obvious frequency of beheadings. (Although the only people she tries to behead are for logical, sound reasons during the movie.)

And while I’m ranting on that subject, not one single character aside from Alice grew or changed at all. Everyone else was deadlocked into the same mind set as before. -.- It was so uncomplex I wanted to cry, because the story itself could have been so good. And before you blame acting…all the actors involved are top caliber. Yes, even the white queen. In fact, I know and love her from several other movies, which is why I blame the writing.

So people, dig out your WIPs and take a good long hard look at your “unimportant” characters. Do they have their own moments to shine? Do they grow and change? What’s at stake for them? Are they supposed to be important in order to distract them from the real baddy? Please. Distract us. With a well developed character.

Okay. You can come out of that bomb shelter now. I’m done ranting.