The Scene : Two random, non-descript characters enter a bar. They’re the sort of fellows that if the scene wasn’t focused on them, you wouldn’t notice them at all. In fact, beyond the chapter you were reading, you probably won’t pay them a second thought. At the moment, they sit down for a drink and start to chat.
Character 1 : “So, how’s business been for you? Land a role?”
Character 2 : “Sure did. Desk Sergeant in Chapter Ten. Nothing glamorous but I get a few lines. Provide a clue to the main character too. How about you?”
C1 : “Oh, I get a line in a later chapter and then I get killed. But it pays the bills.”
C2 : “Don’t knock getting killed. My cousin’s got a great career out of being the victim. The whole story surrounds you and you get your name mentioned a lot. Great exposure.”
C1 : “I suppose so. Hey, did you hear about Jeff?”
C2 : “Jeff Stockwell? I heard he got promoted to that Side Character gig. Lucky guy.”
C1 : “No. He got demoted. Almost completely written out.”
C2 : “What? No way! He had a background and history and everything. Graduate from a highly prestigious Ivy league school. Decorated law enforcement career that led to a position as Lead Investigator for a government agency. How did that happen?”
C1 : “Appearances in multiple chapters, over 1,700 words of dialogue. Even had a role in supporting the main character. It was going to be big.”
C2 : “So what happened?”
C1 : “The author thought Jeff took a bit too much from the main character.”
C2 : “Always protecting the big star, huh? Typical.”
C1 : “Well, it is told from the First Person Point of View. Besides, I kind of agree. The role smacked too much of a deus ex machina.”
C2 : “Deus what?”
C1 : Oh, come on. You’ve heard the phrase before, haven’t you? Deus ex machina is when something or someone all powerful swoops in and solves all the protagonists problems. It requires a suspension of belief and to be frank, it’s a bit uncreative. That’s the reason why J.K. Rowling had Snape kill Dumbledore.
C2 : “Dude! Spoiler!”
C1 : “Oh come on. It’s been out for five years. Get over it. In any case, if Dumbledore lived, Harry would have kept relying on him. He had to die. Otherwise, Harry would have been constantly saved by a much more powerful wizard. It added tension having him do it on his own. It’s the same with this story. It evolved and Jeff’s role went out the window.”
C2 : “Wow. So how’s he taking it?
C1 : “Not good. He’s calling the writer a hack and all sorts of nasty things.”
C2 : “Well, that can’t be good for his career. What’s he doing now?”
C1 : Deputy Chief of Police with less than 250 words. We share a scene in Chapter 10. I have to say, he’s looked better. I think the demotion took a lot out of him.”
C2 : I can imagine. Hey, maybe he can run with that. Lots of writers use a corrupt high ranking police officer as a foil. It could be the start of something good.
C1 : “Good point. There’s some great bad guys out there. I’ll have to mention that to him during the next round of revisions.”
C2 : “Yeah. Hey, I gotta go. Looks like the Author is about ready to do some rough drafting on my scene.”
C1 : “Good luck with the dying!”
C2 : “Thanks!”