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Character Overload!

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
Well does anyone else have this problem? When you write a story and you have plenty of characters, but you tend to get attached to all of them, then you bring new characters in then also get attached to them so much that it evatually has too many characters?.

Well that what I do, in my latest story, I have about forty two characters! I know it's insane, some of them are kids, about four of them are teens between 13-18, and the others are adults, there more girls characters, and more lesbians as it seems (I plan to add a gay couple but I have too many already).

I guess it's because I get attached to these characters so I want to keep them, and keep them, (I am going to get rid of aleasy three in a couple of months who will die, a fourth one will leave), of course they aren't all main stars but still, there so many of them that I need to cut down, this is way too many more then the main characters when they were all in High school (Well the Graduates from 2006 I mean).

So does anyone else usually come into this problem? And how many characters are enough? I know fourteen can be done well but forty two? (Althought the younger kids aren't always in every scene)


Don Ledianni
Don't look at me. I have an emsemble cast of heroes, villains and non powered characters. What I do is try to focus on some and balance things out when needed. Sometimes a story can focus on one or a couple. There's major characters and there's supporting ones. Plus, dividing the team like I do helps as both have their own sets of adventures while working under the same banner.

So, I might think 40 is a bit much. It can be daunting but don't forget, I think JKR has more. A LOT more characters than both of us combined. Still, she manages to make it work but focusing on a select few at a time. Regardless of age.



Well-Known Member
Depends on if these characters are major or minor characters. I'm sure I've introducted over 30 new characters in one fic of mine, but only five of them are major.

And JKR does not have that many characters in which she needs to keep a track of. o.-

I wouldn't recommend 40 MAJOR characters. It's going to be hell. It's going to be annoying. It's going to be annoying for your readers to keep a track of. It's going to be a mess, no matter how well of a writer you think you are.


Well, as already mentioned, it's impossible to give that many characters major roles, but I do know how it feels when an idea for a character just needs to be included.

You must prioiritize and organize your cast so it's easily manageable. have a small major cast while others are put into supporting roles (it all depends on their role in the plot.) Plus there are a probably going to be a few characters that will not even make it to the drawing board stage. Nearly all major works have characters that are scrapped. Disney's Pocahontas was originally supposed to have a talking turkey character named "Redfeather", but they dropped him so they can have non-speaking animal characters like Meeko.

If there are some character you just love so much but can't be intergrated into the fic, it's best to make a new fic in which that character is the star.

Arcanine Royale

Well-Known Member
I've read a few books by Harry Turtledove, and in most of them, there are so many characters that a second entry for a major character doesn't come until about page 100 out a 500 page book.

However, he does also focus on a few at the time, as a few get killed (it is during a parrelel world war), a few captured.

I'd say that if you were to do something like that - not have them all the time - you might be able to get by with it. However, 42 characters in a lot... especially for characterization. Without stretching it into epic novel size, you're going to have trouble making the characters deep enough to be interesting.

I'd say that you should just focus on a few, and then maybe write a parralel novel with different point of views? That might prove interesting. Of course, it would also get old. Like if they made a spin-off of the anime that covered Gary's journey or May's journey.
And JKR does not have that many characters in which she needs to keep a track of. o.-
Think that Leddy's referring to the fact that she made like a list of the basics of everyone in Harry's year (Seamus Finnegan, Hannah Abbot, Terry Boot, etc) — totalling forty — for reference in addition to the bigger secondaries and Harry himself.

I actually had a similar dilemma in the planning stage of my main work (only about three weeks ago, to be honest) what with about the same number of characters total. Fortunately in my situation's case the characters are in different timeframes with there being no more than five or six in any given place, but I get the feeling your situation isn't going to be so easy to resolve, so all I can really do is reiterate what everyone else has been saying: focus on a few at a time, give the major characters the appropriate amount of attention, and so on.

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
Hmm, I know 42 is alot, althought as I said, the kids don't have major roles, and there are minor roles but they are usually the girlfriend/boyfriend, but in this past week I have killed off two characters, another left and soon another one will end up sarificing herself to save one of the children/teens.

Plus I tend to forget some of them with that amount, like I am who is missing? Not even Hereos or Lost have this many characters (Major anyway).

But it is possible, althought really, really, really hard to do 41 characters good isn't it?


The true master
I get attached to my characters, but I only have four main characters, three to five supporting characters, and the pokemon.

The pokemon are interesting because they are just as important as the human elements in the game. They need some personalities as well that need to conflict with the humans and with each other. Adds realism to the universe as well.

But while you get attached to the characters, both good and bad, you know you have to..well, be expendable with them when the story needs to be.

In other words, you get attached, but sometimes you got to let them go.

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
Yes I know, I am already letting a few characters to go, especially the ones I like:(.
So far I am gotten rid of Terry and Tanya, planning to get rid of Dani, even my own character and Amber Benson is leaving, which might result Liz and Charity leaving (Liz, Amber and myself are real people actually, thought see where I go without them). I would be cutting them down until about 15 or less characters, main ones. I am also cutting on the amount of recurring characters..

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
I have an original story with a large cast. Initially a main part was going to be about a soldier named Johann, but then I decided he was boring and made it about his commanding officer Pierre instead. Although back then it was still just exploring the enemy army, because the center was Pierre's love interest Monica. And then I needed more soldiers, and more good guys, and neutral people, and where did the otherworldly villian come from and did anyone follow her from her home world? And it grew from there into epic porportions.

Crazy Weavile

Um... your nose OK?
I never have that problem- for some reason, all of my plot outlines involve killing off a ton of people in brutal fashions. Theoretically, it adds emotion to see the characters you care about die like that. All the same, I do scrap a few. For example, in some awful fics I did before coming here (technically, I've yet to do much of anything here), nearly half the original cast was removed- things like a subplot's entire exclusive cast. (in addition to the [useless] subplot)


Well-Known Member
I am using a lot of characters in my new fic (Non-Pokemon fics, Bearer of the Key), but I introduce them slowly. The plot centers around about 10 of them, but the story is nearly always told from a character named Rebecca's point of view.


The Best of the Best
Yes, I get attached to ALL of my good characters, and that makes it all the more painful when I kill them off. I usually use the killing as a way to make the story better.


Well-Known Member
I get pretty attached to my characters to. I've got about 30 in one story... The only advice I can give you is:
1) Write 2-3 books centering around a certain group of characters in that one story. Maybe add another one to sum up the ending with all the characters.

2) Cut down on not- that- important- characters for your story. Then use the ones toy cut out in a different story.

3)Kill them off...

Also, are the forty-something characters main characters or minor characters?

Mew King

It's black magic!
Oh GOD! I know about that...one time I remember have over 50 characters. I managed to trim it down in other stories but I can't get it less than 17 and since that that is an odd number I raise it back up to 25 (and that doesn't even start to include the villains). Basically what I do with all of these characters is have a main bunch (which for me is a group of 7) and then the rest. The rest do get their shining moment where I occasionally focus a chapter around him/her but the story's plots that span multiple chapters are usually dominated by the main characters.

And to make matters worse, I never kill off my characters so I always have them. In other stories though, I occasionally have characters come and go for various reasons including summer break (where only a few characters live by each other) and a challenge by the big baddy (who only invites a few of the characters).

For part 1 of my one "I can't believe it's Pokemon" Pokemon fan-fic, I include over 100 characters though most of them only appear once or twice for a test battle against the main character. However, that number quickly drops to somewhere between 15-30 and then drops occasionally afterwards.

I guess all I can say is to keep thinking about your characters and then find a way (if you must) to get rid of one or two or even just reduce a few of their roles to just cameos.

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
DN- Well they are mostly all Major characters but not all would appear on the main credits, but as guest stars. And the guest stars do get thier shining moments, sometimes the Main ones don't appear much to make way for thier appeareance (But they are still there)


Psi Core Commander
No problem, just don't try to handle them all at once. The book I'm editing right now has twelve main characters on screen at once... It's a pain to give them all appropriate acknowledgment.