Love this post over at Kidlit.com about characterizing details. Mary encourages writers to focus on details that actually say something about their characters’ personalities, not just stuff that kind of describes them. (Fun quiz included!) She writes:
“When you’re dealing with character, and especially at the beginning of your book–whether novel or picture book!–make sure you are choosing details and actions that do double duty and flesh out character on a more emotional level for your reader.”
Obviously this is essential for main characters, but I think it’s also something to remember for minor characters as well. It’s easy to describe your main character’s best friend as being tall and funny, but if you talk about how she breaks into showtunes in the cafeteria or how he can make even the stern Latin teacher crack a smile, it can go a long way into developing the world of your novel. Also, it gives readers a better reason as to how your main character interacts with the world around them. You don’t need to go into a ton of detail, but showing instances like these are a great way to build your minor characters and, by extension, your main character.