View Full Version : Can you Keep Up?
November 2nd, 2004, 09:14 PM
I have seen quite a few complaints about books with more then five main characters hard to follow.
I agree, but with books like LordOfTheRings, the time you have to know the characters is well, so it is easy to keep up.
But my point is, who thinks it is rediculous to have atleaast six characters at once in a story that has the characters in a group 70% of the time?
November 2nd, 2004, 09:44 PM
I don't think its ridiculous to have a lot of characters. Even the most minor has their part.
November 6th, 2004, 07:33 PM
The one thing I am discovering about myself is that I have many different characters all doing different things at different parts of the story. If I use the word "different" too much here, maybe you can get an idea as to how confusing it can be to follow my own seperate (different) story lines.
I often think that I'll confuse the reader to the point that they'll close the book and be done with it before the end. However, when I read back therough the manuscript it works.
If you write many characters into your stories keep what a writing book i read by Orson Scott Card calls a "bible." Its a list of names and the characters they most interact with that helps you to keep the story on track while you're writing.
Another thing you can do to kep the reader on track is create a glossary of characters like Robert Jordan does. At the back of his "Wheel of Time" books he has a glossary of names and wordsw he's created. It helps.
November 7th, 2004, 01:29 AM
There are two ways to use a lot of characters:
1) They are all driving a single storyline
2) They are all going off into their own stories
Number 1 is the harder to write, but the easier to follow, where you can have many people because you maintain focus on what is integral to the story instead of getting sidetracked by all the details you want to tell. If you have the patience you can edit all that fluff out afterwards but many people feel that is stripping their story.
Number 2 is easy to write because you can go off on tangents, the problem with that though is that readers might not always follow you on that tangent (and even if they can, they simply may not want to). It all comes down to the story really BUT if you are throwing names at me left and right I will get confused even if it does flow with the story (we do need time to get to know them, and we do need to see their differences).
November 7th, 2004, 05:55 AM
#1 is myt story, all the characters are in different parts of the world driving the same stoy line.
November 8th, 2004, 04:41 PM
For the most part, I can keep up. That is until you get into the hundreds of named, pseudo-important characters (ala Jordan) and the multiple story arks each leading eventually to the conclusion. This is definately #2.
The problem (well another problem) is when you get the tangent story that is far more compelling and interesting than the main story.
November 8th, 2004, 04:53 PM
I can usually keep up as well. The only time I couldnt wa reading the Iliad. Too many names that sounded the same. Still loved it though
November 8th, 2004, 05:17 PM
The only problem I had with this was the Three Muskateers, but there wasnt that many people.
BUt I tend to kill off the people I introduce later on.
November 10th, 2004, 03:05 AM
I don't see why it would be a problem. Even if you have a million characters, there are going to be only 3-4 main characters. The rest are there and they may be important but they don't have to be part of the main group.
The thing I would suggest to do, would be not to have names too similar. For example, Sauron and Saruman gave me a headache. They weren't that important and I didn't know who they were talking about when either of them were mentioned. There's countless other books but if a character's name is going to be mentioned a lot, I'd suggest it not starting with the same letter as another guy.
November 10th, 2004, 09:37 AM
I am fine as long as the POVs are clear as I am reading, who's head I am in. GRR Martin for example, jumps around chapter to chapter but I think it works really well.
In my own stuff, as Holbrook will confirm, I tend to head-hop mid sentence LOL.
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