1. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116

    All my characters are related

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by King Arthur, Mar 6, 2016.

    This isn't even hyperbole, every single (out of thousands) character that appears in my novel is related to all the others in some way. Could this put people off?
     
  2. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    I think the fact that you have thousands of characters would be more offputting...

    But having a few characters who happen to be related? Sure, whatever - family drama is a thing.
     
    Mckk and Bjørnar Munkerud like this.
  3. JD Anders
    Offline

    JD Anders Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2016
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Texas/Alabama
    It may be a bit overwhelming, but if done well, I see no problem with it.

    I guess it really comes down to whether there is a reason for them all to be related. If there isn't, and it is superfluous and confusing, I would look to change it. If there is a reason for it, however, then stick with it!
     
  4. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,079
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I guess. On my street, here in the countryside of Puerto Rico, out in the sticks, everyone one my street is is related to everyone else by blood or by marriage. It happens in communities that stay put and there's not a lot of influx. I'm the only "new blood" on the street. So, I guess it depends on where/when your story is happening? I mean, with that many players, let's say, if it's midtown Manhattan in 2016, I would seriously wonder why no one just knows someone who's not kin.
     
  5. Mars
    Offline

    Mars New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2016
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    United States of America
    It's bizarre, but if you have a good/plot or setting related reason, I imagine it could also be pretty interesting.
     
  6. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    It's not bizarre, it happened quite often. It's set in 500 AD and most of the nobility were related.
     
  7. JD Anders
    Offline

    JD Anders Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2016
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Texas/Alabama
    If you're being true to the time period, I think it is perfectly acceptable.
     
  8. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    Right, thanks.
     
  9. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    The story spans a long time over several novels (or one huge one, I'm not sure), which explains why there are a lot of characters. It still can't beat Proust's book that had (I think?) 6000 characters and was over a million words.
     
  10. Mars
    Offline

    Mars New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2016
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    United States of America
    Ah. That changes the situation quite a bit. Seems perfectly fine to me, then!
     
  11. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    Yeah, I should have specified it.
     
  12. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    That doesn't sound right. Are you referring to A la recherche du temps perdu? It's over a million words, sure, but... it doesn't have six thousand characters! I mean, even if it were two million words, at six thousand characters that would only be about 330 words per character.

    I'm not sure what you're thinking of, but... no, this makes no sense.
     
    LinnyV likes this.
  13. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    Sorry, 6000 is for La Comédie Humaine by Balzac (which spans around 95 works to be fair). Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu has over 2000 characters and about 100 important ones.
     
  14. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    Do you have citations for those numbers? They still sound kind of strange to me.
     
  15. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
  16. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    I was thinking more about the 6 000 for the Balzac.

    But, regardless - thousands of characters for your two volume work still seems very high. Are some of these just, like, "A man and his daughter walked by" and you'd count that as two characters, or do you mean thousands of characters with names and at least some effort at characterization?
     
  17. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    Hmmm.

    My own WIP is set in the 11th century, and while Godwin of Wessex and his sons controlled most of England, and a daughter was married to the king, other earls weren't related.

    So, at a time when England was coming to terms with the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons - who weren't related to the incumbent nobility - and the rest of Europe was coping with the decline of the Roman Empire (where there had been a fair amount of merit-based promotion, rather than dynastic succession) against the onslaught of various invaders - again, not a lot of inter-marriage - I'd find it incredible that EVERYBODY was related.
     
    KaTrian likes this.
  18. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Sans having any actual knowledge of the subject, I was thinking about this as well. Like, is it actually believable they're all related? I don't know how common it was back then, but if I was reading your book, I might be wondering about that.

    In and of itself, all the characters being related doesn't really bother me or anything.
     
  19. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    It's common, since all the nobility stem from several brother Kings.
     
  20. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    Even Godwin's Earls are related to him.
     
  21. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    Which earls? How?
     
  22. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    116
    All. They inevitably have a common ancestor in the nobility. For example, Godwin's great-great-great-grandfather was an Earl and his four brothers were also Earls. Those four brother's descendants probably inherited the Earldom and are related to Godwin. And that's from one ancestral line, Godwin's ancestors all married other noblefolk so he's related to their sibling's descendants too.
     
  23. BoddaGetta
    Offline

    BoddaGetta Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    73
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    If you go far enough back, everyone is related.
     
  24. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    Godwin had no brothers.

    He had six sons, five of whom went on to become Earls.

    Of those five earls:
    Sweyn died in 1052, at the age of 32. Now, he CLAIMED to have been fathered by King Cnut, a claim his mother went to court to rebut.
    Harold died in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.
    Tostig died in 1066 at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
    Gyrth died in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.
    Leofwine died in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.

    The sixth son, Wulfnoth, was given as a hostage in 1051 to Edward the Confessor, to ensure Godwin's compliance with his banishment. Upon Godwin's reinstatement in 1052, Archbishop Robert of Jumieges took him with him on his flight to Normandy, and Wulfnoth remained a captive of William of Normandy (William the Conqueror) until his death in 1094.

    Following the Norman conquest in the winter of 1066, King William bestowed the earldom (of Wessex) on William FitzOsbern, his most trusted companion.[3] FitzOsbern continued to help William consolidate his new realm until his death in Normandy in 1071.

    Following this the earldom was reduced in power and regional jurisdiction, and passed to FitzOsbern's son, Roger, as the earldom of Hereford

    So, it's most improbable that any of Godwin's descendants ever reached any position of authority in the post-Norman world.

    Unless you're taking @BoddaGetta 's view, in which case we all have a common ancestor in the first organic primeval slime and we're all related to each other (*)...and but for an accident of birth, the Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Head of the Commonwealth could be an amoeba!

    (*) Unless the accident of the first organic primeval slime happened more than once, in which case, there are several "first ancestors"!
     
  25. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    I've done some genealogy of my own family, and it's possible that my son and his wife are related.

    Go back about four generations, and you've got the same surname and the same part of the world, so it's possible. But it's far from a unique surname in that part of the world, so less than likely. And, beyond about four generations, "related to everyone" starts to become meaningless.

    The nobility have always been far prouder of their blood-lines (if you look at Icelandic sagas, half of it is taken up with Gylfi, son of Ragnar, son of Harald...) so they'd know if and how they were related - The Queen and Prince Philip both have Queen Victoria as a great-great-grandmother. They are also related through his father's side. His paternal grandfather, King George I of Greece, was Queen Alexandra's brother.

    My point is, if you're making the claim that ALL your characters are related, there WILL be documentary proof. But, at the time you're writing, you've got a continent in flux, with great social and physical mobility.

    If we accept the possibility that one of today's Syrian immigrants makes a success of his life in Britain, and is ultimately created Duke of York (this is a parallel to the Angles and Saxons immigrating to Britain in the fifth century and seizing positions of power), you surely won't argue that he's related to the then Duke of Lancaster? It's not inconceivable that his children would be, if he marries into the right circles, but not him.
     

Share This Page