‘Sit down kid, I want to tell you a story.’ The movie vice-president flicked his cigar at the chair. ‘The first time Tony Curtis was in a movie, he delivered a bag of groceries. We took one look at him and knew he was a movie star. But you ain’t got it, kid; you ain’t got it.’

‘Gee,’ said Harrison Ford. ‘I thought you were supposed to look at him and say, ‘There is the grocery boy.’’

 In addition to the judicious – big word for a wet Wednesday morning – use of the semi-colon…..it’s all right I think you are allowed more uses of those than the actual colon…. I think there’s a point.

After the immediate secondary characters, doing things like pawning candlesticks, etc etc., you have a whole cast of minor secondaries, the grocery deliverers, who might only make one appearance, in your story.      

Should they know their place? Be the grocery deliverer, or the bell-boy, as Harrison Ford was pulled up about being…or rather not being….in his first film role?

Well yes and no.

No, they should never display scene-stealing hints that suggest they might be the star. And the red pen should strike back if they do.  Whoh..annihiliation.

But yes, with a few brush strokes, your scene peoplers can colour a scene. While they deliver the groceries, or page Mr So and So, can you use them to reflect the protagonist’s state of mind, change of heart, change in attitude, learning curve? Say we know the hero has an eye for a pretty barmaid, but on this occasion, asking for a bed for the night, he refuses hers.  It’s a show don’t tell, he’s had a growth spurt, instead of…well I won’t be crude.

It’s letting the bellboy be more than the bellboy, but never more than the story itself. Leaving you with the image of the young Harrison.

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