1. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    Multiple MC'S

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by wiggons, Jul 8, 2009.

    Hi guys
    (sorry if this has already been posted)

    In the story im working on, ive got multiple main characters and one "super main" character, and i go from character to character as i tell their parts in the larger story. This just got me thinking-

    Do many people do this?
    Any tips from people who do?
    Is this a bad idea for me to do something like this, especially since this is my first large-scale story?

    Any tips, suggestions or anything would be hugely appreciated

    Thanks guys :D
     
  2. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    I have a ton of characters, very few of whom can be considered minor ones. It's a tricky way of writing; easy to bite off more then you can chew and make a big mess of things.

    My advice would be: make sure you know what role each character plays, and don't try to force a character into the story for the sake of just having that character in the story. Be prepared to change any character in major way if required, and learn to cut the ones that don't fit into the plot out entirely. It's easier then you'd think, honest.

    Oh yeah. Most likely.

    ...But I do that as well, so I'm not really one to talk. :p
     
  3. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    There is nothing harder than realising that you have too many characters doing too much stuff that bloats out the story and leads nowhere.

    I have recently realised that myself, and once I am finished here my task for the day will be trimming it all down before I continue the story.

    Best if you knew what was necessary and what wasn't from the start.
     
  4. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    OK thanks guys for your comments. I think i should be ok, as ive got the points youve listed done alright. Hopefully it will turn out good.

    Cheers
     
  5. Martin Lesnoy
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    Martin Lesnoy Member

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    I have two main protagonists in the novel I'm currently writing, one male and one female. I basically just switch betweem their POVs where appropriate. I also lend some time to the antagonist's POV to develop his character and background. There's nothing better than a complex evil guy, after all :)

    I do have a whole host of supporting characters of varying importance, but I would never have more than two main characters -- it's just not necessary for my story.

    --Martin Lesnoy
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do what you can handle. If you can make it good, do it. Multiple main characters can be fun and make things interesting. You don't want too many, but more than one isn't necessarily a problem.
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Bad idea? Well, nothing's really a "bad idea," if you're willing to learn from doing it. For writers, most anything is worth giving it a try. Just know in advance there are lots of pitfalls to creating many main characters, not the least of which is that your reader may not understand whose perspective is the most significant one through which your story is to be understood. If that's key to understanding the focus of your story, that's fine, though probably a challenge to accomplish. If it's not key, then it's likely to create more confusion than clarity (on the part of your reader).

    I don't think many published authors I've read and enjoyed do this (although I'm sure you can find some who do). One notable exception I can think of might be Joyce Carol Oates's WE WERE THE MULVANEYS. It did something along these lines, (as I perceived it) in terms of elevating the family itself to the status of "main character," rather than any of its parts. It wasn't one of my favorites, though. I read a very well written unpublished manuscript by a published author who did something similar--also about a family. And I strongly suspect the reason it hasn't yet found a publisher is because of this very issue.

    I'd say if you can see it for the challenge that it would certainly be, then go for it. You'll probably learn a lot! Good luck.
     
  8. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    HUGE thanks to everyone for all your comments. Cheers!
     
  9. Seppuku
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    The Time Travelers' Wife had two main characters, Henry and Clare, who often switched perspectives. As Niffenegger was writing the story similar to diary entries (where the date is marked) but everytime a perspective switched, she just put the character's name at the beginning of the first paragraph. Like: "Clare: Today is my birthday and Henry is coming around later..." Her prose was written in 1st Person.

    Stephen King used two perspectives for Rose Madder, Norman and Rosie were the two main character, Rosie was the key character running away from Norman, whilst Norman was tracking her down, Norman's perspective was written entirely in italics. He wrote in third person.


    Those are instances that worked for 2 characters, though I've not read anything that's had more than 2. But there's no reason what-so-ever that you should avoid doing it - as long as you don't interrupt you flow of prose and allow the reader to know who's speaking. You don't have to be so obvious as to write: "Bob: I'm to the supermarket." You might open a paragraph with a hint of who the person is; in the last perspective you might have:

    "Bob said he was off to the supermarket to by some cigarettes, though I don't know why he has to do this every time we fight. He gave up smoking when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he'll eventually put himself back in hospital like this."

    Followed by:

    "I shut the car door. Why does she have to follow everything I do wrong? I try my best but all she can do is nag at me. I seriously need to smoke something and some space. I'm going to die anyway, so what do I care? I could just drive this car off of a bridge, I bet that'd show her."

    Then you might have the daughter:

    "I heard them again, shouting and raving, dad's buggered off somewhere and mum's crying in the kitchen. I don't want to hear any more of it..."

    At least that's how I'd see myself doing it. I hope it helps.
     
  10. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    Thanks Seppuku, that helps alot. Thanks for your comment and thanks everyone for all of your help.
     
  11. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    I am doing this, and I often wonder the exact same thing. I do not think it is a bad idea at all for a first story - perhaps, though, as ManhattanMss said, don't expect to get this one published or anything, not at first. What I plan to do is to finish the book I'm doing now and then use something else to get a foot in the door with publishers.

    I am all for experimenting though, it is never a bad thing. My suggestion to you is to keep focused and make sure you know what is going on at all times in your little world, so that you never let anything get bloated or too confusing. That way even when you have too many plot lines, they will all at least be entertaining to read - that is my own goal.
     
  12. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    Thanks Dr, you raised excellent points
     

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