I don't like my secondary characters

Thanks, i'm definitely going to do this. Ideally I would've done this earlier. Instead I just gave each character a brief list of traits and beliefs and hoped they would grow into a full character (i'm sure that works for some people).

But this brings me back to my original question: If I redefine my characters and give them all arcs, given I am already 50-60% of the way through my book, how should I incorporate this? Would you suggest I keep writing the characters as is, then do all this once i've finished the book? Or do this now and go back and write in the beginnings of their arc in earlier chapters?
I don’t think you need to use all the stuff on the sheets. It’s a bit like world building - you know more about the world than is contained in the book which means you write a richer world. I don’t think I’d revise from the beginning until I got to the end at least in draft form, but in making your secondary characters rounder when you do come to editing you should be able to deepen their scenes
 
It is important to know as much as you can about your characters--you definitely will have few times that you actually reveal it all in a novel, although over several novels you might review a great portion. What is most important is to know what applies to the present situation and how that character should act and react.

Depending on how minor the character is; you will likely have some that seem pretty flat, because they don't have a lot to do with driving the main story though they might drive or contribute to the scene.

On the other hand, if they don't contribute to the main story or that scene then they might not belong in the novel, novella or short story in the first place.
 
I disagree with the idea that a minor character that is not developed will be uninteresting or unrealistic. They can be fascinating, memorable, yet completely opaque. In the real world, people don't come with backstories they are acting out, yet we find many of them immediately appealing.

If you put something interesting on the page, the characters - like the story - will hold the reader's attention.
 
But this brings me back to my original question: If I redefine my characters and give them all arcs, given I am already 50-60% of the way through my book, how should I incorporate this? Would you suggest I keep writing the characters as is, then do all this once i've finished the book? Or do this now and go back and write in the beginnings of their arc in earlier chapters?
For me, I like to feel a consistency with my characters and plot lines. I would go back and start overlaying the characterizations in the existing story. This helps me have a mental picture of the character each time he or she is reintroduced. I find it also starts to drive the story, as I find that a certain character may not be the best one to perform some later action or reveal. To me, it would feel like drudgery to continue with characters who are not fun to write or feel inconsistent with their path.

I think that you have reached a point where you have made a commitment to rewrite some of the earlier sections. It is entirely a personal decision whether to stop and rewrite now or to finish and rewrite later. Either approach requires a commitment to getting to a finished draft that you personally feel proud of. I know that is sort of a wish-washy answer, but what works for me may not be right for you.
 
Hey! Brand new to the whole writing game, so please take everything I say with a huge dollop of salt.
That said, I too have totally struggled with secondary characters, so I understand where you're coming from with this.
I've found that these few things worked really well for me, so maybe try them out and see if you get any ideas?
Imagine that every character in your book is potentially the next main character - If something happens to MC 1, 2 and 3, who would you want to replace them and why? What makes them interesting enough that they could become MC No. 4?
Just like building a good magic system, the limitations of a character are far more interesting than anything else - What do you, as the writer, not like about this character, and how can you turn that into something juicy?
Finally, and possibly most importantly: How does this character's story end? This is particularly important if the side character is filling a function to the story (Mentor, love interest, antagonist etc.) Are your secondary characters written out of the book when they've accomplished their goals beyond what you need them to do in the story? Do we have an idea of where they might end up or what they might be doing? Great example of this is Hot Pie in GOT/ASOIAF. We know that he achieves some aspect of resolution within his own story separate from the main story. He has a function beyond what our MCs need, and it makes it so much easier to root for him in the moment and in retrospect. Ask yourself: In this character's individual journey, where are they and what do they need to be happy/fulfilled.

Hope that helps!
 
I just lost a lengthy post to my cat so apologies for the terse unquoting bullet points

- OP, what did your writing group say about the characters?

- I agree with insufficient to do as a common problem with uninteresting characters

- The other common diagnosis is they are too straightforwards and predictable. Even as simple a conflict as "wants to show off how clever they are but doesn't want to be seen as nasty" can add unpredictability and verismilitude

- It's also amazing how useful adding a touch of exoticism (the old eye patch and hook) can be

- Your characters don't have to have known backstories or big goals, but it can help. I would also argue that well written characters write their goals themselves half the time

- Also, yes, normal people have backstories, it's called their personal history.

- Finally, implementing - option three between redraft and continuing exactly as is, is to write a note like

***Mr Timbers now has a peg leg and hook, and a goal of shoving them somewhere uncomfortable into the person who took the original limbs, but the kindness of Masked O'Rascal has engendered great loyalty in him and he is conflicted***

And then continue writing the current draft with the updated character, and fix before the note in the draft.

Not that the other approaches are impractical. There's definitely authors who do both, and I've had success with getting to about halfway and taking what I know back to the start with a far better idea of what I need to do.

However, continuing as is could mean a lot of rewriting, as you're writing with characters that no longer exist, and when you get to know the characters, they might surprise. And so could redrafting from the beginning. Making a note and carrying on can offer a sweet spot of the least rewriting.
 

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