Make sure you don’t have characters that are wasting everybody’s time and oxygen.
What I mean is – sometimes characters are put in because they feel necessary. Such as:
Your MC: People have friends, right? Let’s give them a friend.
At school: There are always bullies, right? Here’s a bully.
At home: They have neighbors, obviously.
OK. Yes, putting in those characters make sense. It is a way to flesh out the world you are writing. BUT if a character is there just to flesh things out, most likely they will get in the way once the story starts moving.
When you get to the climax, the villain is defeated, and they gather at the hero’s house to party, you don’t want to grudgingly think, “Oh, but his neighbor would be there too…”
Now, that character is taking up oxygen. To further illustrate I am going to use Thor: Ragnarok.
Before we get to Ragnarok, we must visit the first two Thor movies.
*zips through the bifrost*
Ah, here we are. The first Thor movie, a movie I vow never to watch again. But whatever. This is where we first get acquainted with our four excess characters. The warriors three and Sif.
They are Thor’s friends. Like – yeah, that’s all they do. They go with him and Loki to Jotunheim, the event that gets Thor banished to earth.
We didn’t need them there. It could have been just Thor and Loki, and the same thing would have happened.
They end up coming to earth to help Thor fight that metal/laser eyed monster thing that Loki sent to kill Thor.
Anyway, family problems aside…Sif and the Warriors Three try to fight said metal/laser eyed monster and don’t really help at all. Thor ends up sacrificing himself, regains power, and Loki falls through space and somehow gets hired by a giant purple grape (aka, Thanos).
END OF MOVIE.
Warriors Three? CUT. If there was a reason to keep them, it was to show that Thor has a life. Ok, fine.
NEXT MOVIE. Thor: the Dark World.
Thor is fighting bad guys blah, blah, blah. Bad guys come in, bad guys are coming back. Thor has a plan, but Odin (his father/king) has forbidden him to carry it out. Thor steals Loki from prison and enlists the help of Sif and the Warriors Three to get off Asgard.
The fight ends up happening on earth, so naturally the Warriors Three (and Sif) are not there. And even though in this movie they did actually help with something, they were not absolutely necessary. They haven’t proved integral. They haven’t had arcs of their own or affected the arcs of other characters. Again, CUT.
Now, onto Thor: Ragnarok.
This is the climax. If anyone knows their Norse mythology, it means the end of Asgard. THIS IS THE CLIMAX OF CLIMAXES.
In such a situation, the characters at the climax must be invaluable, interesting, and tied directly to the villain.
And um…the Warriors Three didn’t cut it. They ended up being quickly killed in the beginning by Hela. (Sif was nowhere to be seen. I also just realized, I almost wrote this whole post spelling “Sif” as “Sith.” That’s a different story.)
But they were cut and probably because of the following:
Too many characters: We have Loki, Thor, Heimdell, Hela (the villain), Hulk, and Valkyrie. (Oh, and Korg).
They weren’t as meaningful as the other characters: Valkyrie was there when Hela was first banished, so it’s fitting that she be there when she is defeated. Hulk – well, he’s Bruce Banner, and plus he and Thor were stuck on a planet together. They are best buds now.
Their fighting skills aren’t the best: Let’s just say that there was some pretty wicked fighting and well – as I said they didn’t have the best fighting skills. So, they wouldn’t be much help.
In other words, they would have been taking up oxygen, and there was just too much other awesome stuff going on. Other awesome characters, other awesome relationships…
If you are writing and find that a character is boring but seems necessary, they probably aren’t. CUT THEM AND FREE YOURSELF FROM THEIR DRUDGERY. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to cut them somewhere along the way and have an awkward death scene like in Ragnarok.
OR if you do need them, make them interesting.
That’s all folks! Now go and make that story AMAZING. *Cue Led Zeppelin again*
*I hope this post was coherent. Honestly, I think I just wanted to use a bunch of Ragnarok gifs*