The Squirrel with the Marvellous Tail, or the importance of minor characters.


The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet

tove jansson squirrel

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson

So, you’ve got a strong protagonist or two, a decent antagonist (that Groke, eh? Or maybe the weather itself), some plot and character development (Tooticky: did she support Moomintroll? Or challenge him? Or perhaps a bit of both). The setting is good (plenty of snow, not too many pine needles in the tummy) and the story is rolling along. So why add any more characters?

One reason is to challenge and develop the protagonist. If you think Tooticky was tough on Moomintroll, just wait until Little My comes along. She provides him with a whole new perspective.

Another is to keep our interest. We may feel we’ve heard enough about the protagonist. Give us a lively secondary character and it revitalises our interest in the story. Ski-ing, horn-playing Hemulen anyone? This type of character can draw another dimension out of our protagonist. Who hasn’t had…

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About yvonnemarjot

I was born in Britain, grew up in New Zealand, and now live on an island on the west coast of Scotland. I fit my writing addiction around my teenage sons and a day job with the local Council. I will continue to write even if no-one reads my work, because it’s often the only thing that keeps me sane. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write poems and make up stories, and I once won a case of port in a poetry competition (NZ Listener, May 1996). In December 2012 I won the Britwriters Adult Poetry prize, and my first poetry collection, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published by Indigo Dreams. My novels, The Calgary Chessman, The Book of Lismore, and Walking on Wild Air are published by Crooked Cat.
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