Sep 28, 2010

Faceless and Nameless

by Terri Wagner

There are characters we love, those who inspire us, those who make us laugh and those who just need to help out the main character(s). And then there are those you have to introduce to help those characters "do their thing."

You know what I mean, the one that helps the funny one be funny; the one that cries with the sorrowful; the one that gives that small hint to set the other off on the right track. The ones we sometimes hardly ever name.

I think of that character often because I find myself wanting to give them more depth than they need. For example, in Galaxy Quest the one fellow keeps insisting he's going to die because he doesn't have a last name; or the extra brides in 27 Dresses who ultimately become the bridemaids.

Do you have those shadow characters? Like a guard in a fantasy novel who sleeps through the rescue, the friend who consoles the hopeless romantic, the friend that hovers around, the kid on the bike that narrowly missing getting creamed by the bad guy in a Mustang...nameless, faceless in most cases.

It also makes me think I'm using them somehow. Like they're real people and I have to worry about their feelings. It's odd.

But then aren't there real people like that in our lives. Here today, gone tomorrow and yet they made some kind of impression on us. Maybe our acknowledgement can be to place them in a work of art so they don't remain quite so faceless. Can you think of characters like that?


  1. A fun post, Terri. All characters have a story if we take time to talk with them, but have to remain story-less because of timing in a story. I'm amazed how some authors take a minor character and write a sequel based on them. Every character should have a story even it might not get into a novel.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post Terri. You have me looking at all kinds of people and the roles they are playing in life. Very fun!

  3. I like how you pulled the camera away from the star to the extra in the crowd scene. Very fun.
    I think that is why I like main characters that think of themselves as ordinary rather than stars.


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