Have you ever thought that you have too many characters in you novel? I understand that ‘too many’ is a subjective concept, but if you are thinking you have too many characters, the chances are that you have too many characters.
I’m battling with this problem right now. Due to the nature of my story, many characters died in book one of the EVO Nation series, but I still managed to bring eleven forward into book two. Two of the characters were only introduced to us in the final chapter of book one. (I say introduced, but actually, my protagonist knew only that they were male and fighting for the same side.) The issue I am having is that every character is linked into the narrative in one way or another, or will be needed in book three. I’m a pantser not a plotter, and allow the story to lead me, but I do have one idea that seems set in stone for book three. Not only that, the narrative arc finds me introducing new characters.
What can be done?
- Cull– If this aids your narrative, then great, cull away. The only problem with this option is that you may end up killing off characters for the sake of it, and leaving the readers disgruntled or feeling cheated. Embark on this option with great care.
- Split up the characters- At first my characters are forced to remain a group due to external threats, but I have the option of splitting the group up. Not only does this aid my narrative, but it’ll give the readers, and me, a respite.
- Give sub-characters a way out- If they’re not a necessity to the progressing narrative, give them a way to separate themselves from the main character and the current story. It is fine for them to play their part, and then excuse themselves as long as it is true to the narrative and a closure for that character and the reader.
- Revise- If your are on your second or third book in a series this can prove tricky as most characters are established and you can’t just erase them. If the character is fresh and newly introduced, revise their importance. If you can do without them, do away with them.
If you have any tried and tested techniques for managing characters, or an abundance there of, I’d be happy to hear them.