1. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    How many characters would a respectable novel need?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Miswrite, Apr 18, 2009.

    I have two main characters in my novel at this point, but I feel I need 3-4. I don't want to just throw extra ones in there, and the story doesn't need any more. Suggestions? :)
     
  2. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    You do what's best for the story, and if the story doesn't need more than two main character, don't add them just to be contrary.
     
  3. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    Yeah, there are plenty of novels with many varying amounts of characters. I mean, I sometimes dislike works with huge amounts of characters, anyway, it makes them quite cluttered and whatnot.

    The Collector by John Fowles is a good example of 2 characters working for a book.
     
  4. That Silly Welsh Guy
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    That Silly Welsh Guy Senior Member

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    I agree. You do what is best for your story. If the main storyline is capable of being played out between just two main characters, then do. If you need to bring in anymore then, of course, you can do so. Any other characters you use other than those of your main characters could be made into small, less frequently mentioned ones perhaps? I dunno, that just seems to be the logical answer to me, but as is often said a fair bit on this site: 'it's your story, it's your decision' :)
     
  5. Miswrite
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    It's just that I've never personally read a 2-character book, so I don't know how it would work, and I'm afraid it may become too boring or dense to write a whole novel focusing only on 2 main characters.

    Of course, there will be side characters, but they won't be along for the ride of the novel.
     
  6. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    1984 & A Clockwork Orange imo
     
  7. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Well, there's Gerald's Game (only one main character), The Metamorphosis, Dorian Gray (two), a lot of Lovecraft's stories. Really, it can and has been done well.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Robinson Crusoe?
     
  9. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    You answered your own question.
     
  10. Miswrite
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    Thanks for your advice, everyone - I guess I got too caught up in writing like someone else for someone else's book rather than like me for mine :)
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the raft ride?
     
  12. starseed
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    Yeah, I agree with others who have said to do whatever is right for your story.

    My current novel has.. let's see.. 6 main human characters.. 3-4 side characters.. and a few animal characters. I'd LOVE to write a story with only 2 main characters one day. I think it's an interesting challenge.

    It's not a book (that I know of) but a good example of a story with only two characters is the movie "Before Sunrise" with Ethan Hawke. It's nothing but two people talking and connecting, which I think is really lovely. Human life at it's best. :)
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no 'right' or 'wrong' number and no 'best' one, either... each story/book should have just as many characters as are needed, period!

    that can mean anywhere from 1 to 100, or more...
     
  14. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I think you shouldn't worry about how many characters you have but rather do your characters serve a purpose and desire something.
     
  15. The Lost Boy
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    The Lost Boy New Member

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    How many characters?

    is there any limit or suggested standard for how many characters can be used in a story? I really want to use the many characters i've created but i'm not sure what's too much for the reader to handle
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, there's no limit... every story/novel should have just as many characters as it needs, to make the plot work...

    what you should consider, is what market you're writing for... if it's for the lower ages of the YA crowd, fewer characters and a simpler plot might be best... for adult fiction, if you write it well enough, no one will care how many characters you put in it...

    have you ever noticed how many characters there were in novels you enjoyed reading?...
     
  17. KurtistheTurtle
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    I had my answer for you as soon as I saw the question:

    As many as it needs.
     
  18. Rose
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    Rose New Member

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    if you only need two charaters, then go ahead with that, but if u think that the story would benefit from having more then add them.
    You shouldn't add more characters then nessisarry for the story, even character needs a reason to be there
     

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