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Old 11th August 2011, 07:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: How many new characters should I introduce at a time?

First thing you should probably do is examine your characters for duplicates. If there are some characters who have no individual purpose in the story or unique set of characteristics, you should question whether they belong in the story at all.

All of the characters have to have marker, some concise, distinct attribute that separates them from everyone else.

It helps to keep the reader in mind when you are deciding the number of characters to introduce. New information can quickly become overwhelming. Imagine that you are being introduced to a group of people, and your friend, the one introducing you, is telling you each of these people's names and a little of their history. By the end, do you think you'll remember the first person clearly? This is the position you are putting your reader in.
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Old 13th August 2011, 06:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: How many new characters should I introduce at a time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by slack View Post
All of the characters have to have marker, some concise, distinct attribute that separates them from everyone else.

.
This is true. I know that if I am reading and a lot of characters are introduced at once without defining characteristics, I have problems keeping track of who is who.
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Old 14th August 2011, 02:18 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: How many new characters should I introduce at a time?

I am being such a fanboy, but really if you want to know how to introduce many characters at once, read George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
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Old 14th August 2011, 10:36 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: How many new characters should I introduce at a time?

This is a topic close to my heart. My WIP/magnum opus has multiple POV characters. I settled on two protagonists, but there are several others who have significant plotlines.

I gave six chapters for protagonist 1/plotline 1. Then the same for protagonist 2/plotline 2.

Then I moved back to P1 for a further few chapters, then P2. Only after these two were firmly set in the reader's head did I introduce protagonist 3/plotline 3.

By this time the reader is fairly familiar with the world, the likely bad stuff that will happen and how the three plotlines fit together. They all come together, more or less, by the end of book one.

For me introducing multiple characters depends on how many plotlines you have (among other things). If they're all in the same central story, then I'd introduce them more or less one at a time.

Watch the opening of LOTR (film) and see how we meet Bilbo, then Frodo, then Gandalf, and finally Sam. Merry and Pippin come in once the first characters are firmly established. Some time to set up their characters, then Aravir arrives. It's a really beautiful demonstration as to how to introduce your characters - watch particularly how Merry and Pippin's characters are set up; each line of dialogue is crafted to tell you what sort of person they are.

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Old 17th August 2011, 04:04 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: How many new characters should I introduce at a time?

I had much the same problem, so I started off my first manuscript by writting 'diary entries' by each of my supporting characters. It's easy to introduce the protagonist as they become the center of your new world, but the supporting characters become lesser versions of the main character rather than individuals.

The diary entries allowed me to iron out the character traits and speech patterns as well as their driving force for helping (or hindering) the protagonist.

By the time I started working on my third story, it became easier to keep all the characters seperate in my mind...well, that and there's really only 3 characters who need to have deeper motives than an extra on a movie set. lol.

It's never too late to do diaries, and I found them to be incredibly helpful on re-reads as well.
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