A major and minor conflict

Sad to report at this festive time of year, but I've come up against a conflict.

It's one familiar to writers of crime novels, but that's not to say it makes it any easier to resolve. 'tis this - how to make minor characters feel real when you've only got a limited amount of words to lavish upon the poor creatures.

It comes down to the old debate between plot and character lead books. The majority of a crime novel tends to be dominated by the plot, so that's where the mass of the writing has to go.

You're always working towards a word count target - usually around 100,000 - which leaves less scope for characterisation.

The major players - Dan, Adam, Claire, El, Rutherford, etc., tend to take care of themselves, especially in a series like the tvdetective books.  Most readers will already know them, and they feature so heavily in the plot that it's easier to make them live - by introducing their habits and hobbies, showing glimpses of their home lives etc.

It's with the minor characters that the problem comes.

I'm thinking about this now, because I'm working on the story to come after the new book (released May 1st, since you ask, I know you'll want to put it in your diary!), and I'm going to need quite a few minor characters for the plot I have in mind.

And since I can feel you asking again (because, as one of my wonderful readers, you're kind and curious like that) the idea centres around a battle between generations and sections of society.  But more I am not saying for now!

The solution, as best I can find for my neglected minors (as it were), is to drop in a few dense passages here and there about what they're up to, their outlooks, hopes and fears etc., and trust that it's sufficient to make them feel passably real.

It's not ideal, but then again - how much of this lark called life isn't, in some way, a compromise?

I'm looking forward to a few days off over Xmas, happily sketching out ideas for the next book. (And yes, probably with a festive ale in hand, you guessed it.)

It just has to be better than re-enduring all the films you've already spent countless Xmas days of the past watching...