Kevin Smith refers to character shortcuts that some writers
use, that might be called "profiling."
"Is it necessarily a bad thing? When is it offensive, when is
it just lazy writing and when is it a clever way to pump up a
secondary character without using a lot of verbiage? And by
profiling I don't just mean by race or gender or sexual
preference or even hair colur. For example, I think Pelecanos
and Michael Cormany often "profile" their characters simply
by referring to the music they listen to, or what they drink.
What are some literary shortcuts that other writers
Agreed that it's not only not a bad thing, but probably a
necessary thing! Most secondary characters need to be "flat"
(EM Forster) or predictable, so the major characters can play
to the audience on a stage that seems less crowded than it
is, if you simply counted bodies (living or dead). One short
cut I've noticed in alot of hard-boiled fiction is to turn a
secondary character into a sort of caricature--Raymond
Chandler's love of metaphors and similes leads in this
direction. Moose starts this way. I've been reading Dennis
Lehane (thanks to whomever mentioned him a while back) and
notice in Sacred, how efficiently he presents a couple of
henchmen through nicknames the PI (Kenzie) gives them, the
Weeble and Lurch. When their names somehow fit their actions,
such characters become the intersection, where wise cracks
become wise guys.
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