How Many Characters Do You Need?

A large cast of characters is just as great as a small cast, but let’s face it: the fewer the better.

Smaller casts allow you to keep a tight focus on the thread of your story, the main theme, the main plot, it’s all more manageable with fewer characters.

Of course, this isn’t always possible. It depends on your story. A High Fantasy or Hard Science Fiction work would be very hard to manage with one or two characters, although not impossible. In the case of most epic fantasies, you would need a large cast just to convey the weight of the story’s events.

It’s important to have a handful of active characters so they can represent the larger events happening in the background. It’s hard to tell a war story if you don’t have any soldiers or survivors.

Always consider the smallest number of characters possible to tell your story. Any more than your smallest number of main and secondary characters and you risk cluttering your story and chasing plot bunnies that offer no real substance to your story.

Originally published on September 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm


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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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