1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    would 8 mcs be too many?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Mar 3, 2012.

    I am planning on writing a novel (as soon as I'm ready revising this one) that tells the story about how 8 different people react to the same event. It will also contain more about their lives to know why they react like they do, but I'm wondering if it would be too confusing having to deal with that many mcs, since they are all equal, no one is more important than the others. Do I have to make one or two more important for the story to have a couple main-main characters or could I leave it as I first thought? Personally I have never read a novel with that many people to keep track of so I don't know if it has been done before and with what result.
    what are your thoughts on this?
     
  2. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    I think there is no rules to novel writing, can you handle 8 MCs? and not make it confusing, and have us care about all 8 of them, if you can then that's perfect.
    I say write your novel how you want it. then make some one read it and maybe they'll tell you they didn't identify to MC 'x' so maybe you could cut him out so you have a novel with 7 or 6 really interesting MC.
     
  3. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    The real question is can you make it work? If you think you can go for it.
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    yes, I thought of reducing them to six people... I'll keep thinking.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Les Miserables was five. Like the others have said - it depends what you do with them and if it is confusing. Are they going to have their own seperate section of the plot or is it being mixed in together ?

    It is going to be a beggar of a synopsis to write though lol I only had one MC for Mayhem but it has several secondary characters and getting that down to one page was a headache.
     
  6. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    No. Eight is fine. You just have to sharply distinguish them and write them well.
     
  7. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    A song of ice and fire has about 10 MC (though it's debatable.). It'll be tough but it can be made to work. The question is how skilled are you?
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's only too many if you can't handle it. I don't like these general "stick to only 1-2 main characters" crock. Yes, sometimes that's what's best, but sometimes it's not. Write it the way you think it should. You can't say it doesn't work until you've done it. Only hindsight is 20/20 and if it doesn't work, at least you will know. Ignoring what your writer's gut wants to do, IMO, will just put you in a safe little box.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Elgaisma: (Hi, and welcome back!) I planned on letting each chapter focus on one character at a time, (because they are all affected by what happened each one in his own way) so there would be approximately 4 chapters per character, but mixed up so that one chapter is one characters pov, the next one it's someone else and so on until i've gotten back to the first one and then start over. I don't know if they will come in a specific order but I'm not going to write the entire story from one POV at a time and then starting with the next one. And I agree, it's going to take some outline to make it work, hehehe, but since I'm an hopeless planner-aheader I don't think That will be a problem.
    Show and Erato: thanks for those encouraging words. I really see this story in my head and I want to give it a try.
     
  10. Jethelin
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    Jethelin Member

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    I'm working with around 10 at the moment. Its challenging for sure but you just have to be careful and make sure none of them falls out of the story and keep sup with the others. It also helps take some of the pressure off you if one or maybe more (I just have 1) of the MCs is kind of soft-spoken or less talkative than the rest but still an important part. It defines their differing personality while saving you writing time without sacrificing depth or interest if done right and sparingly. I don't know if this would work with your plan of separate people per chapter. Mine are all grouped together.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you haven't yet, see a cult film called Rashomon. It does exactly what I think you are asking, superbly and with quite interesting results. I think it is a very intriguing idea, well worth pursuing, although I am not sure, 8 characters might be a few too many, you might want to downsize it a bit, to keep it focused.
    Good luck! :)
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. It depends on your skill as a writer. Can you keep all eight of them vivid and distinct in the reader's imagination?
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If they all have individual chapters it shouldn't be too much of a problem as it won't get confusing. I found with my character heavy story filtering them all through one MC worked better when I tried something similar, but other writers have made it work.
     
  14. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    I know that eight is possible. Saving Fish from Drowning has around 15 or so distinct characters. I personally would find the task daunting, but that's probably because I'm fairly new at writing and I can barely make two characters work. All 8 characters have to "pull their weight." So you have to work very hard to make each one of them interested, conflicted, dynamic, etc. It's a rough task, and I don't really envy you. But if your story calls for eight, then maybe you can rise to the challenge.
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I won't know until I'vew tried, huh? actually I've looked through the cast and narrowed it down to 6 main characters and some minor ones. I think that will be more dynamic.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's another good strategy. Ask what each character's purpose is in the story, and whether that character's role is MC material. Also ask whether some roles can be combined in one character.

    If your story has a closely knit ensemble, like a team on a quest, that doesn't necessarily mean every member of the ensemble should be a main character. The main character isn't necessarily the leader of the team either.

    In a case like that, consider who grows the most by participation in the ensemble. That may be a great choice for the main character.
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    yes, actually that is what I did. I gave two people two roles instead of having two more separate characters. That also opened for brand new conflicts. :)
     
  18. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Will you be writing from all eight of their POVs? If so, good luck! It sounds like you're making things extremely difficult for yourself. No writer so far has been able to make me genuinely care about more than 3~4 POV characters in a single story.
     
  19. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yoshiko: yes, they will each have their own pov. Third person limited.
    Cogito: some will grow, some not so much, but I don't plan a classical happy ending.
     
  20. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    I find this very interesting and a great challenge for you so I say go for it. Even if you feel you've failed or ended up not liking the story, the challenge alone is a gift. So embrace it and fulfill it; I wish I had such a challenge.
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks! :) I'll do that.
     
  22. MVP
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    This is called multi-plot. Its been done many times. You could watch the 1989 movie, Parenthood to get some ideas on how to work with multi-plot.
     
  23. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    I say write it and if you feel to bogged down kill off a few. It sounds morbid but it would work.
     
  24. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol, killing people off isn't always a good idea :) plus it would make this a totally different story. But I like your advice anyway.
     
  25. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Yeah sometimes it does not work but other times it works wonders (like in a mystery...) It would trim off your character list [mysterious laugh and fade to back.]

    But seriously there is no reason you cannot "write someone off the show" because the novel is under your total control.
     

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