Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can Too Many Characters Spoil A Plot?

I've had an idea for a series for quite a while now.  Something fun and paranormal and not too serious.  I've scribbled down a few notes on characters and discovered that I seem to have quite a few that are pertinent to the plot.  My original plan was to use one or two characters in each chapter (each having their own journey that is followed throughout the book).  These characters would all share a common goal, some will meet up along the way and inevitably, all will play a major part in the climax of the story.  At first I figured on three main characters (I keep choosing three MCs, I have no idea why) but as my ideas developed, I found myself with an entire cast on my hands. 

Therein lies the problem.  Will too many characters weaken the plot?  Confuse the reader?  Dilute the connection readers feel with the characters?  I'm always afraid that writing in third person takes away some of the intimacy but doing it with a lot of characters could either work very well or fail on a truly epic scale.  I could put the focus on one character at a time and give other characters their own book in the series but sometimes that can be disappointing for those who connect with the first MC.  I tend to enjoy books that read from the POV of various characters but there are always some who are more entertaining than others.  It can become all too easy to skim past the less interesting characters to get back to the chapters of the ones you like best.  I could put a limit on the jumping between POVs and have two or three main groups of people from the start rather than linking them together slowly but that doesn't sound quite right either.

Decisions, decisions.  I have been known to re-write entire books because I've changed my mind about the POV so I'd love to make the right choice before I put a few months into this.  Any advice?

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