Minor Characters in Romance Novels

Have you ever thought about the minor characters in romance novels? From a writing perspective, I mean. There aren’t very many of them, are there? Well, not compared to other types of books.

The standard romance novel has a small handful of named supporting cast and another group of un-named, even more minor characters. Like the nameless footman that delivers a note in one scene, and that’s it. Or a nameless mass of figures in a crowd scene – more described by their movement and group energy than by any individual features.

I hadn’t really thought about it before now (the whole point of romance novels is escaping, not thinking), but now that I have, I can’t help but connect the dots to the fact that many romance novels have more simplistic plots than other genres.

What’s a key technique for complicating a plot? Side characters. Such as multiple suspects for the villain or main characters for subplots.

I don’t see that happening much in most romance novels. Or there are maybe 2 or 3 suspects to choose from. You only get larger numbers of minor characters in the bigger, more complex books by the biggest names in the industry (like Nora Roberts). A lot of the others keep it much simpler and are still successful.

It really makes me want to try for the top level quality: lots of minor characters and a complicated plot. I don’t know if that’s a showing off thing (look what I can do) or if it’s ambition to be that successful, but I do know it’s not going to happen with Born, Not Made.

I’m practical, ok? Writing a novel for the first time has plenty of challenges just for making a solid-if-basic plot with a small cast of characters. If I start adding on high-level challenges and measuring myself against the top names in the industry (on my first try), I’m never going to get this book finished.

And I really want to finish it.

So I keep reassuring myself that lots of other romance novels only have a small number of minor characters. I’m not breaking any rules or violating any quality standards by doing the same. Nothing says a book has to have a deeply complicated plot or a huge supporting cast, right?


2 thoughts on “Minor Characters in Romance Novels

  1. You can definitely go too far with the minor characters – I enjoyed the Game of Thrones books but sometimes I felt like I needed a scorecard to keep of what seemed like hundreds of secondary people roaming around

    Like

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