Friday, October 18, 2013

Enter the Guardsman

Illustration for poem The Picket Guard - N.C. Wyeth

Lets take a moment to salute the most unappreciated character in all of fiction--the humble guardsman. Stop for a moment in your vicious writing and consider this. The humble guardsman always gets the short end of the stick. An alien octopus or rogue assassin always targets him if he works for the good guys, and If he's working for the bad guys the heroes often kill him.  He has an unforgiving job,... and the audience doesn't even root for him.

As Christians, should we really treat our minor characters like that?  Every human being has a living soul, and even though our fictional characters are not real, they still represent human souls. Often we consider our tertiary characters as unimportant because they don't affect the plot; however, I'm starting to think that since Christianity claims that all people are made in the image of God, we ought to see our minor characters--who represent people--as valuable.

 Those guardsmen represent in a way the ordinary people that we meet every day. The people that you meet once, talk a bit to, but never really get to know. They're the unfamiliar faces we see every day, but still possess their own unique lives and their own unique stories. However, even though we encounter them for a brief period, they are human beings and deserve our respect. Treating tertiary characters like humble guardsman with disdain breeds disdain towards unfamiliar people. You do not have to put a long backstory about the guardsman in order to make them seem human. The moment you do that they cease to be a tertiary character. Rather, you should include brief snippits that show the guard's humanity.

Quis Custodiet Ispos Custodiet? 


  1. Ooh, good thought, that. *Hadn't thought of it in that way before*

  2. They all die too quickly. Not my fault. They shouldn't have all taken an arrow to the knee.

    Which sounds cruel, knowing that the phrase is Nordic slang for getting married.