In Praise of Cage-Free Characters

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246383_original[1]The good folks at the Writers & Authors blog asked for some of my thoughts and advice on writing. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the joys of what I call the cage-free characters. Think of them as the fictional version of free-range chickens.

kramer-seinfeld5[1]For readers, the cage-free character is the minor character who suddenly appears to have taken control of the novel or play, morphing from a bit player into a major figure. My favorite cage-free character is Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry IV parts 1 and 2. But there are plenty of others. For fans of sit-coms, a great example is Kramer of Seinfeld. As for literature, the Hall of Fame of cage-free characters most surely includes Sancho Panza of Don Quixote. And for all you supplicants in the Church of Breaking Bad, that marvelous free-range character named Saul Goodman has not merely broken out of his cage but is now the star of his own show.

Andantes,+Serie++El+Qijote+y+sancho+Panza,+Óleo+sobre+lienzo,+Jesus+Helguera[1]For authors, the cage-free character is like a gift from the gods, to be treasured and enjoyed and spoiled, as I explain in my Writers & Authors blog post, which you can read here.


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