Luna, Dudley, Fred, George, Cho, James, Lilly, Viktor…
You know them instantly. Even though it wasn’t their name on the cover. And we’re willing to bet you can name at least a dozen more of the characters that shaped Harry’s world. (Go on, do it! At least 12. Go!) Another roll of the dice says you know each of those characters’ histories, their arcs, their quirks, and the roles they each played in Harry’s life.
A good story has a leading character (or more than one) that you can root for, and supporting characters that you can relate to. But how many books or movies have a whole cast that you feel are part of your family? That you’d really want to be part of your family?
Of those few that come to mind, how many are some of your favorite books of all time?
Characters play a pivotal role in every good story. Or, at least, they should. This is why you have to go through your work and make sure that every character is memorable; for those characters who are there just to advance the plot or provide exposition, give them something real to do, something to feel, something that makes us feel, or laugh, or recognize something of ourselves in them.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready. Because our exercise this time is more like an exorcise…
Remove the least significant character in your work.
If they are truly insignificant, removing them will quicken the pace, give another more meaningful character something more to do, and avoid any confusion the reader or viewer may have in keeping your cast straight in their mind.
This should be challenging. If it’s not—and you George RR Martin-ed one of your cast with zero hesitation—then jump right back in there and do it again with the next least significant character.
Keep going until all you are left with is your very own Weasley family. (Except Percy)