Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Helpful Hints for Serving Characters to Your Guests

Now that I’ve given out my recipe for creating characters, here are a few serving suggestions.

To avoid confusion, keep a list of the characters’ names, alphabetize it and make sure the first letter is different for each one. You don’t want to confuse your readers as they cook along eating up the prose you’ve served.  You wrote Peter loves Mary, but they caught Paul loves Margaret.

Introduce your characters slowly.  You got a cast of thousands, but spare your readers the memory exercise.  Frist scene, do two or three characters. Bring along a character for the next scene and toss in another face or two. By Chapter four you got the entire cast laid out and your reader has a good idea who’s who.  Imagine going to a party and the host introduces you to all fifty guests in fifteen minutes. You don’t remember anyone and end up hanging out all evening at the snack table to avoid embarrassing yourself.

Same logic holds when you finally do get to the point where you’ve got the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir in it.  Let two or three characters carry scene. If you must let one in, let another drop out.  I was at a luncheon the other day and noticed at our table of six, two people carried the conversation while the rest nodded and fed their faces. Same holds true for fictional characters.

Enough talk about food, I’m head out to the kitchen for a snack. 


  1. So true about too many characters introduced too fast making for too much confusion about too many story elements. Let the reader identify with someone, even if it is the bad guy. Who knows? The reader might be rooting for the bad guy.

  2. I kill characters when I get too many. I figure book 4 is going to be a blood bath to clear some space. :-)

  3. Sounds like it will be a cast of thousands.