Detailed descriptions of secondary characters...

Discuss the August 2016 Book of the Month, The Lost Identity Casualties by Kim Ekemar.

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Detailed descriptions of secondary characters...

Post by Scott »

This is a discussion topic for the the August 2016 Book of the Month, The Lost Identity Casualties by Kim Ekemar.


In The Callaghan Tetralogy, the author has added the background stories of some minor characters in an attempt to make them more interesting and the text a little more varied.

In one review of the book, a critic wrote: "However, some amount of detail could have been culled. The backstories of some secondary characters are presented as extended chunks of text, up to several pages long."

In general, do the readers think that secondary characters should only be explained briefly, or do they merit a more detailed description?



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Post by stoppoppingtheP »

I sometimes found the descriptions and stories of the secondary characters to be overwhelming. There was such a large number of background characters, each with their own part in the story, that I sometimes had to turn to the beginning page to verify the relationships between the characters.

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Post by gali »

I agree and feel the same. I thought that the backstory of the secondary characters was too detailed and could be tighten up. It wasn't really necessary for the advancement of the plot.
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Post by braver »

I love character development and understanding why characters do what they do, so I didn't mind the backstories for the other characters. I just thought the way they were presented wasn't necessarily the best, particularly his wife's mental "explanation" of her backstory - that was an odd choice and felt forced.
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Post by gali »

braver wrote:I love character development and understanding why characters do what they do, so I didn't mind the backstories for the other characters. I just thought the way they were presented wasn't necessarily the best, particularly his wife's mental "explanation" of her backstory - that was an odd choice and felt forced.
I felt that the her backstory was inserted just to explain her distaste to him after the surgery, and it did feel force.
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Post by Paliden »

gali wrote:I agree and feel the same. I thought that the backstory of the secondary characters was too detailed and could be tighten up. It wasn't really necessary for the advancement of the plot.

I agree.
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Post by CrescentMoon »

I also thought the background and detailed backstories of the secondary characters was way too long. They didn't enhance the plot in any way for me and I honestly found it tedious to read. I wanted to just keep going forward with the story.
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Post by kimmyschemy06 »

I feel the same way about the secondary characters' back stories being too detailed. However, aside from spending too much time reading all about them, it didn't hurt me much, so, in the end I think it's just fine by me.
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Post by L_Therese »

With secondary characters, I think letting them show their characterization through their interactions with others is a better way of communicating with the reader about them. I have no objection to backstories for one or two characters, but they should be main characters. A plethora of backstories gets overwhelming and distracting very easily.
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Post by pyb »

I agree. While character development is key to making the reader feel a part of the narrative, it could have been done a bit more elegantly. As L_Therese stated, getting to know someone through their actions is typically a more effective use of text.
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Post by lmoses »

I actually find that if the secondary character is going to have an important role in the MC's life, then I want a lot of detail about them. In several books, I find myself liking the entire book or series more because of the great secondary characters. If the character is only going to be a minor side role with few references to plot development, then I do not think a lot of information is given because it distracts from the story line.
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Post by Sarah_Khan »

I think the more details about characters the better, but the descriptions have to be written in just the right way and not too long so that you end up forgetting the plot of the story you're reading. In this case, I enjoyed the descriptions of each and every character, minor or major, I felt like it made it easier to really get into the story.
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Post by MrsCatInTheHat »

lmoses wrote:I actually find that if the secondary character is going to have an important role in the MC's life, then I want a lot of detail about them. In several books, I find myself liking the entire book or series more because of the great secondary characters. If the character is only going to be a minor side role with few references to plot development, then I do not think a lot of information is given because it distracts from the story line.
I agree with you, and for this reason, felt like we were not told enough about the butler, Andrew. I'd really have liked to have known more about him and what he was thinking as different events took place.
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Post by Amh73090 »

I don't feel you have to have pages of background info for secondary characters. However like said above it is dinferential when a secondary character plays an important role in the main characters lives or opinions.
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Post by Prisaneify »

It depends on what the focus of the book is on. One of the books I'm listening to right now has tons of information on the previously killed secondary characters because of how they tie-in with each other and the main characters (2 of them). I really enjoy this format. Now, if they only make an appearance every 100 pages, I probably don't need to know much more than their relationship with the main character and if they did anything important to influence the story.
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