Thursday, September 25, 2008

Casting a Novel - How much is too much?

My outline is going pretty smoothly. The main plot is strong through the first half, and then sketched out more roughly after that, leaving me leeway to make adjustments later.

I'm struggling with the casting, though. I have WAY too many characters, even after weeding out the unnecessary ones. I think i have two viewpoint characters, whose growing friendship plays a key role in the story. One of them has a love interest, a sister and brother-in-law; the other has a daughter; the love interest has a friend, and there is a father figure and a grandmotherly figure that play leadership roles among the locals. There are a couple of other urbanite refugees that were going to play key roles in creating conflict... but it seems like too much! Maybe it isn't..... I don't know!

How many characters can/should a novel illuminate? I have seen some suggestions, but they range from 4 to 20! I imagine this means it is up to me.... once again I have to do all the work on this thing while my muse is out stewing over the absurdity of political game playing!

So, I'm off with a notebook and a pencil to determine whose story this is and what their goals/conflicts are; if they are still interesting, they stay. If not, they get the eraser!


Jacki said...

I don't know if there's really a set limit to how many characters you need for a novel, or when it's too many, but if you can't keep track of them, you might have too many (note this is my inexperience opinion). I don't know the details of you plot, but if you have a bunch of semi-supporting characters, maybe you could consolidate a few of them into one character? If it wouldn't make sense to do it that way, then don't. It's just my thinking.

jchart said...

It really is a case by case basis when it comes to casting a novel - some call for only a few, and others for a cast of many! I'm writing the latter at the moment, though prior to this it's been anywhere from 3 pretty important characters with some supporting crew, to about 8.
It sounds like you only have two POV's which isn't heaps anyway - and if your other characters are important to the story then there is nothing wrong with keeping them all.
Good luck with it all!

Sarah said...

Thanks for the advice.... after looking at my group of characters waiting to be exiled on a farm to survive a catastophic bird flu outbreak, I realized the all do need to be there if I'm going to create the conflicts and play out the story in my head.

And you're right! It's just a first draft.... anything could happen later.


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