Hugh Bolton Jones,
oil on canvas, 1881.
We utilize three types of characters in our novels: the main characters, the minor, and the often nameless incidentals.
Always the advice is to avoid stereotypes, to make the chosen characters of what every type and frequency, "unique" -- though this dictum is somewhat relaxed in relationship to secondary and itinerant appearances.
I'm beginning to dislike the word unique. I think its one-of-a-kind connotation misleads.
I think the challenge is to create characters -- regardless of importance to the narrative or how brief their appearance -- who are individuals.
... an old red half-ton truck with a yellow dog leaning out of the box geared down and rolled slowly toward us.
A brown middle-aged face under a baseball cap stared deliberately.
A slight girl, a large man on a quiet road.
I smiled and waved at the driver to let him know that no assault or abduction was in progress.
I got a nod and a salute in return. The driver shifted gears and sped up again.
The yellow pup barked once and went back to savoring the wind.
Is a red-necked farmer in a half-ton a stereotype? Probably.
But I intend for this one to come across at that moment as an individual.
What do you think?
The Anti-Wife is posting exercises from her writing course, which reminds me very much of a creative writing course I took in third year, with its emphasis on solid basics and the purpose of foundation elements like setting, description and character.
Even if one is not a beginner, it can be valuable to revisit and remind oneself of fundamentals.
Though advice may be standard and stereotypical, one may well find benefit in an instructor's individual methods of expressing that advice.