1. King Arthur
    Offline

    King Arthur Banned

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

    Too many characters/antagonists?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by King Arthur, Feb 4, 2016.

    Hello!

    My novel deals with the invasion of Britain by the Saxons in the 5th-6th century. At that time, there were about 8 important leaders who we meet in the novel. There are also three other non-Saxon antagonists. Isn't that far too many antagonists?
     
  2. Lew
    Offline

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    407
    Not at all... if they played a role, they should be in the book. Just finished reading a short article on minor characters, recommending that the writer put as much effort into them as into the MCs. I have characters who are only in play for a few chapters, but they are full characters in their own right.
     
  3. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    It is historical and readers pretty much expect a large cast with historical. The only problem I'd see is whether or not a writer can handle a large cast. I've done a large cast twice - not easy at all - in fact it kind of turned me off of large casts, writing them I mean. There's a lot of planning involved and you can still miss things. But if you can handle it, why not?
     
  4. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    956
    Location:
    SC, USA
    That doesn't sound bad at all. I think your average reader can keep up with eleven characters.
     
  5. Lew
    Offline

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    407
    I had a large cast of about fifteen or so characters that were in the book for the entirety or nearly so. I had perhaps 30 or more minor characters that are tied to some geographical areas that they were traveling through. In Taprobane (Sri Lanka) I have a king in the north, a governor in the south who doesn't get along with the king (still true today), a king's agent who hires a prostitute to get information on the Romans, and the prostitute who is hired by the centurion for an afternoon of fun. What gets back to the king is that a very large Roman ship is unloading troops in the south and it goes downhill from there... But after brief firefight with rioting townspeople that involve long range ballistae, some incendiary, they get their ship's carpenters back with wood for spare rudder, and set sail to move on and leave all that behind.

    There is another group of people in the court of China, then the Xiongnu in the north, then caravanning with Bactrian characters from Turfam through Kashgar to Bagram, then the king's court in Bagram.

    Each subgroup has their own crisis and interaction so in a way it is a series of short stories knitted together as part of a single adventure. But the minor characters have to be as vivid, for their short time on stage, as the main characters, who are already established.
     
  6. Inks
    Offline

    Inks Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    655
    Likes Received:
    167
    Tanaka's work has I think 30 major and minor characters of great importance or so and I was able to keep them all apart, but the novels also had dozens of minor characters who played formative roles in politics governing the two sides of the war. The examination of events through the lens of history also many more minor characters whose actions ultimately determined the outcome of battles.
     
  7. Samuel Lighton
    Offline

    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    187
    So long as the characters are recognizable and different enough to represent a different person to the reader it shouldn't be an issue, but that depends solely on how you represent each of them in their actions, mannerisms and moralities.
     
  8. MelFyre
    Offline

    MelFyre Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    14
    If they are fleshed out well I don't think so at all. When it comes to power and control and politics and so on very rarely is it one or two players for the field. Frequently there are many persons trying to get a piece of the pie or influence things beyond even those grappling for front and center power ( think 'power behind the throne' issues ).

    I also feel like have options with antagonists gives the storyline some play - instead of being locked in to one or two set paths.
     

Share This Page