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Top Ten Tips about Writing Minor Characters

Minor characters are the small yet important characters in a screenplay.  Don’t short change them; take the time developing them.  They must be as distinct and as interesting as your major characters.

Here are some tips for bringing out the best of your supporting people in your screenplay.

Top Ten Tips

  1. Minor characters can help push the protagonist’s storyline forward, reveal information, and/or give additional insight about major characters, including back-story, which will help you to avoid writing exposition.

  2. Use minor characters to assist you in creating or reinforcing the mood and tone of your script, and to give color to the world you have created.

  3. Minor characters can bring a different perspective to your story.

  4. Utilize minor characters to further reveal the atmosphere and era of your setting.

  5. Minor characters can prevent your protagonist from running away from a problem or encourage your protagonist not to run away.

  6. Take advantage of your minor characters by having them provide insight into your main characters’ storylines.

  7. Minor characters can act as a sounding board, a mirror to the protagonist’s soul, and/or knowingly or unknowingly assist your protagonist in achieving his or her goal.

  8. Use minor characters to propel your plot forward.

  9. Minor characters’ behaviors and even their idiosyncrasies, will assist in setting the tone of a scene.

  10. Each minor character in your screenplay must serve a purpose, otherwise you must bid them farewell.


Minor characters are not so “minor” after all!

To learn more about writing and developing minor characters, as well as all your characters, read my book SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! Analyzing and referencing over 220 films, offering 34 screenwriting exercises, and providing six templates from fictional scripts, to inspire screenwriters to unleash their ideas, break through stumbling blocks, and strengthen their characters. (Save $1.00 off the $14.95 price by clicking on and use DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD.  On Kindle: (discount code does not apply).


About the Author

Susan Kouguell, award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, is the author of THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER and SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises (available at $1.00 with DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD: ).   Susan is a regular contributor to Indiewire/SydneysBuzz, Script Magazine and The Script Lab. 

Kouguell teaches screenwriting at Purchase College, SUNY and presents international seminars. As chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990, Kouguell works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, executives and studios worldwide.  Recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the MacDowell Colony, Jerome Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Edward Albee Foundation, Kouguell’s short films are in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and archives, and were included in the Whitney Museum’s Biennial.  Kouguell worked with director Louis Malle on his film And the Pursuit of Happiness, was a story analyst and story editor for many studios, (Paramount, Viacom, Dustin Hoffman’s Punch Productions), wrote voice-over narrations for (Harvey Weinstein) Miramax and over a dozen feature assignments for independent companies. Follow Susan at Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell on Twitter, and read more articles on her blog:

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