background of minor characters

by Sarah
(Oregon)

Question: How do I reveal the background of my minor character, who is my main character's best friend, in third person POV?


Answer: If you mean third person limited (i.e. in the main character's POV), some options include...

1. Revealing what the main character knows of his friend's background in the narration.

2. The main character telling someone about his friend.

3. The best friend talking about his past.

4. Someone else talking about the friend's past.

5. The main character stumbling upon documentation or evidence of the friend's past.

6. A character from the friend's past turning up and forcing some of the above to happen.

7. Perhaps an authority arrives to probe into the friend's past, which forces some of the above to happen.

These are all ways that the main character can either reveal what he knows about his friend or learn information about his friend.

All this assumes that the friend's past is relevant or necessary to the reader's understanding of what's happening in the present. You don't want a lengthy, irrelevant infodump. Sometimes it's enough that you, the writer, know what's going on so you know how a character should react to things.

Of course, third person omniscient narration offers a little more freedom in that the narrator can present information which the main character may never learn. Again, the information should be relevant to the reader's understanding.

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