1. BootsyBlueyes
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    BootsyBlueyes Member

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    How many Characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by BootsyBlueyes, Feb 15, 2013.

    So as some of you may know – I am in the process of writing my first novel & I was stuck for which idea to use. I have finally picked one, & it turns out it’s an idea I have had for some time now. Completely different from any of the options I gave in a previous post hehe but it’s a dark fantasy, something I know - & you know what they say, write what you know, right? Anyway, I was wondering – how many characters do you think a story needs to make a book interesting? I have around 3 mains, 3-4 secondary characters & a few minor. Is this too many? Or would you say it’s not enough?

    I hope you all like Vampires & Angels because you are going to hear a lot about this over the coming weeks/months haha xxx

    Kelly x
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is no right number. Use as many as the story requires. Sometimes characters show up while you are writing the story that you hadn't expected. And sometimes characters you had in mind initially fizzle out and need to be eliminated.
     
  3. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use as many as your story requires (and I suppose, as you can handle). Your cast doesn't sound all that unreasonable at all. What your story calls for is what your story calls for. Sometimes you may discover as you write that you need another character, or that a certain character becomes unneeded and can be cut or merged with another. Sometimes you just make some characters more minor than originally intended and others more major. Don't play by numbers. Listen to your story and follow it.
     
  4. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    ^this.
    And I think the number you currently have is a good initial start, you'll be surprised later at how many characters you will add or remove or discover that you need. It's usually the story that tells you how many characters it needs.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why do people keep asking this kind of question? The answer will always be "Do what works best for your story." There is no answer that applies to every novel. Stephen King's Misery has only two characters (unless you count the ones in the novel-within-a-novel Paul Sheldon is writing in the book). Tolstoy's War and Peace has dozens, maybe hundreds.

    Do what's right for your story.
     
  6. Shmendrick
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    Shmendrick Member

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    Another factor might be how long your story is. In a shorter novel you aren't going to be able to develop a lot of characters to the same degree as in a longer story. Other than that it's up to you.
     
  7. Saddun
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    Saddun New Member

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    How many characters you have isn’t really important. But you need time to develop and introduce them. I've made the mistake to throw too many characters at once towards the reader, not having the time to introduce them completely, this you should try to avoid.
     
  8. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a good point.

    One thing I learned from my love of high school dramas is that new characters should be introduced only as and when they're needed. Even if they exist in the background right from the beginning of the story they only need a real introduction when they're contributing to story progression.
     
  9. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    However many characters it takes to tell the story - no more, no less.
     
  10. reginamills
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    reginamills New Member

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    Use as many as needed, for sure. The danger with a LOT of characters is that they easily blur together and, if you want to execute it well, you'll need to give them all their own voice, even the minor characters...
     

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