THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN HERE! When You Have Too Many Characters

24 Jun


Creating characters is fun. I know that personally there are times when I get all excited because the writing is really flowing and I start over creating characters. Over creating? Yep, I start over crowding my story and you can no longer truly see the story, much like the train in the photo above.

Sometimes a story can appear to require a lot of people to support it. We have all read that epic novel that has a gazillion characters in it and seems to work well but the truth is those are rare. A story that can carry all those characters has to be epic and long and, well, extraordinary; most of us don’t do extraordinary on a regular basis. So what is a writer to do when they are pecking along on the keyboard and suddenly realize that there are way too many people in their story?

-          Decide who the story revolves around – The first thing a writer needs to do when they discover an overabundance of characters is determine who the story is about. It sounds easy enough however sometimes it can be tricky. Your main character is the center of your writing universe. Determine who that is; it’s key to figuring out who you need.

-          Cut all the fluff – We all tend to add in characters that really don’t have anything important to do in the story. I once added a woman into one of mine just because the character sounded cool. Turns out she was a character for a whole different story.

-          Create your main character’s universe – This is where mapping software is cool. Center your main character and then branch out all the character’s connections. You will end up with the universe of your story.

These are just a few suggestions, I’m sure that some of you have more. The bottom line is that if your story is crowded it will be tough for your readers to see the actual story. Extra characters are a distraction for both you as a writer and for your reader. If you cut the characters correctly what you will end up with is a full-bodied story with characters who feel like they belong.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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3 responses to “THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN HERE! When You Have Too Many Characters

  1. June 25, 2022 at 8:14 am

    I agree, too many cooks can certainly spoil the stew. Too many characters can bring a good story to a halt. If a writer wants to explore a lot of characters, the story itself needs to be able to support them in a way that allows the writer to explore each character. The Lord of the Rings is a wonderful example of more is better. The story remains focused on the main character’s journey to destroy the ring while interweaving the lives of no less than… what?. . . twenty-some different characters? Each are on their own journey, each have their own personal demons, each face their own destiny. One of my favorite collections is the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, a universe in which they created more than fifty individual characters and the loss of a supporting character is as devastating to the reader as the death of a main character would be.

    • thewritersadvice

      June 25, 2022 at 3:22 pm

      I love the Dragonlance series Josh and I agree. It takes a really good writer to juggle so many people but if you are a good host you can make it happen. The average writer must work up to that kind of writing though.

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    June 21, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    Formidable article : persiste comme cela


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