1. Indiego
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    Indiego New Member

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    2,3,4?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Indiego, Jul 18, 2008.

    I've been thinking about this for a while, so I decided to ask for input from you guys.

    In a book where the main character is supported by his or her best friends how many friends should there be? What would appeal to an audience more, a principle group of two (MC and friend), three (MC and two friends), or four? Or should the main character just go solo?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Every character should be in the story for a purpose. Your MC can have all the friends he or she needs, but if they aren't contributing to the story, leave them in the wings.

    That will determine not only how many friends need to enter the story, but which ones.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How many are required to tell the story? What will they bring to the plot? To the development of the main character through their presence and interaction?

    In the end for example, you may start with three, but decide that two of the friends can be melded into one, improving the story having only two.

    Terry
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also, you may add characters not only to help the MC. You may also add them to introduce complications, for a richer plot. One character can take on both purposes, too. The friend who is critical in shifting the balance in the climactic struggle with teh antagonist may also be griping and arguing with the MC in aother parts of the story.

    Never pass up a chance to complicate the MC's struggles! (Yeah there is such a thing as too much, but it's not at all easy to get there.)
     
  5. Flozzie
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    Flozzie Active Member

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    I agree with what has already been said, and would just like to add that as long as it's easy for the reader to keep track of who is who it should be fine.
     
  6. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    It really depends on what your character needs. If you have an uptight, but insecure MC, then he may need two: one "funnyman" to give him a good laugh, and another to give him those confidence boosts. If your character is a leader, then he may need three or four or more. Or he could have just one best friend and they play off each others weaknesses. If your character gets really nervous around people, or even the opposite, and thinks he's better than everyone else, than he may need to be a soloist.

    It really depends on your character.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, it's what the story requires that matters, not what the character needs. If anything, you should inconvenience the character. It makes for better fiction.
     
  8. DrJoe
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    DrJoe Member

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    I agree with what everyone else said, especially Cogito. Conflict makes a story, after all. Maybe MC's friend(s) don't even like him, maybe they just like him because he gives them stuff. Maybe he doesn't have friends at all, and wants some.
     
  9. SunnyRabbiera
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    SunnyRabbiera Member

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    As a firm supporter of balance/ counterbalance I never have more then four mains at the same time, two males, two females...
    One male cool headed, one female hot headed, one female cool headed, one male hot headed.
     
  10. Chazen
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    Chazen Member

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    I guess I can agree with that, but it seems a little analytical. Anyway, I agree with about everybody else, it depends on the MC. Personally I usually have a large cast, or a small cast, all of which I consider main characters.
     
  11. DrJoe
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    DrJoe Member

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    Why does balancing out character attributes make for better fiction? It makes for better character attributes in your party if you're playing an RPG, maybe, but it's not too interesting in fiction.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    following any formula in 'creative' writing negates its creativity, imo!... making such rules for oneself is counter to the whole idea of good fiction and will make your writing predictable, which should be avoided at all costs...
     
  13. SunnyRabbiera
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    SunnyRabbiera Member

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    Well it can still make things versatile, the formula I have works as it makes the characters dynamic in a way...
    I usually have a four way triangle, so when one character goes down the others can pick up.

    Well the thing is I believe in character balance, to have one uber character take the whole show is very overused so I spread it out.
    Not all my fiction follows this rule but i try to use it often.
    But the characters are never quite the same per fiction, sure the basis is there but the characters personalities are vastly different.
    I never focus on one main character, or have a new character steal the show for no reason...
    I try to make sure all the characters get fair treatment, avoiding "the chosen one" scenario or "the cool factor"

    Perhaps it can be but I have not explained my process fully...
    I usually carry the character balance between at least four characters plus a villain/ antagonist or extra.
    I dont like overcrowding a fic, I make sure I have a tight cast so that one character is not favored over the other.
    My formula seems more basic then it actually is, I usually make sure that those roles are switched every so often to make sure things dont get boring.
    when the cool headed male gets mad its up to the hot headed female to cool him down and vice versa...
    I get very dynamic relationships out of this, so that nothing gets stale.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, I had the same reaction as Maia did. Formulaic writing excludes far more than it includes, and that wilderness of character selection outside the meadow you've chosen to reside in contains so much more potential for variety. You may have found a safe and comfortable abode, but sometimes it's better to risk the perils of unexplored realms.
     
  15. SunnyRabbiera
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    SunnyRabbiera Member

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    Perhaps, but I try to avoid the common cleches in my formula.
    Trust me its far more dynamic then it sounds.
     
  16. Indiego
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    Indiego New Member

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    I'm beginning to think that a mix of what people have said is best. The way I see it, it's good to have characters that one's MC could play off of, as was suggested by emily (post #6), but those characters should be intrinsic to the plot. They should be instrumental in the MC's success, but they should also create major conflicts that must be resolved, which would also bring about the need for reconciliation or forgiveness between the characters. Plot development for character development, and vice-versa.
     
  17. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    One problem is, the more main charectors you have, the harder they become to juggle, so if you are struggling, cut one of them loose. We were always told keep your main charectors to a minimum as it makes writing easier, and you can spend more time dedicated to them, so the reader gets to know them properlly and can feel connected. On that basis, I would say probably two or three.
     

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