How to avoid crowding your story with people

I hate crowds. Theme parks, large parties, or squeezing past a million people in Times Square are a few of the things that make me claustrophobic. As if walls of people are closing in around me. Something similar happens when I’m reading a book with too many characters fighting for my attention. Soon, I’ll lay the book down, unfinished, and pick up another. Flipping back and forth to see who is talking drives me nuts.

So, just how many characters are too many?

How do you know who to cut and who to keep?

I’ve always heard it’s best to keep it simple. No one needs to know the entire background of the doorman unless he is the killer.

I discovered a great article that might help you understand how to determine which characters to keep.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen: Why you shouldn’t overload your novel with characters. By Erica Ellis 

Signs your story has too many people, if a character…

  • Pops up begging to tell their own story. Makes you feel like playing “whack-a-mole.”
  • Diverts the reader’s attention taking them down rabbit holes.
  • Becomes a limelight hog, not content to stay in the shadows.
  • Doesn’t help promote the main character’s progress, moving the plot forward.

Too many characters can remove the intimate feel of a story. Which stops the reader from forming a bond with the main character.

Be sure and click on Erica’s post and read more about how to avoid too many characters in your story.

Me Let's Discuss - Jeanswriting.comIs adding too many characters or subplots a problem for you?

Do your minor characters beg for more attention?

Do you have a good tip for selecting the right character?

 

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