Monday, November 1, 2010

I Like to Have Many Friends

Imaginary friends, but friends nonetheless!

Large casts of characters are my friends. It's not rational. I just end up with them, no matter how I try to dwindle the numbers. This is not a bias against small-crew story. It's how my mind works.

There are challenges that come with writing when you have so many characters that influence your story. They have to be easy to remember, and you need to convey their personality as much as you can with the little 'screen' time they get.

Every word matters.

Never miss an opportunity to make your character more distinct. This is always true, but it's even more important with large casts. Give them habits. Make their voices strong. Exaggerate their traits a little, so that they become more obvious. Unless this character is often in scenes, you can't afford to make him bland.

Large casts can get your readers lost, but when handled well, they make your story complex and colourful. I just hope I have the talent to pull it off!


  1. Or combine them. (which isn't as awful as it might seem) But if you do keep them, YES make them colorful and memorable. Pick cool names - that always helps me as a reader to pick them out.

  2. By combining, you mean giving making one character out of two, right? I've never done it yet, but I can see how that helps solve the problem.

    The thing is, when I'm planning and I need a character to do X, I often wonder if there isn't someone around that's already capable of doing it. I guess it's pre-emptive combining? It comes from being quite conscious on how easily my cast can sprawl. :)

  3. Yes, combining two character into one - it trims down the cast we have to keep track of, but more importantly, it tends to give more depth to the character. You can't have too many characters with depth - the reader only has so much attention bandwidth! :) And having more complex characters also can add complexity to your plot (she's the maid AND the secret spy AND she plays the viola!) :)