Why do people complain that a story has too many characters?

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  1. Cardisa profile image91
    Cardisaposted 5 years ago

    Your opinion please. I'll state mine first.

    In everyday life, so long as we don't lock ourselves away for extended periods, we interact with a number of people. Say for instance we go to work. On our job we may talk to our boss, at least one coworker, someone at lunch like in a restaurant, during our commute whether it's at the gas station or on the bus. We encounter numerous situations and people on a day to day basis.

    If I am writing a story about meeting someone while at the mall shopping.I would need to include the store(s) where I shopped; which includes the store clerk at least. I would also need to include the person I meet plus any other significant people who added value to my experience.

    If you want your story to resonate with readers on a real basis you must add natural characters. You can't limit a 20,000 story about a family to just two people.

    Are six people to a 20,000 word novella to many characters?

    I have 5 characters in a 8,000 word short story and I don't think it's too many.

    1. quildon profile image76
      quildonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I think it all depends, Cardisa, on the story and how the author presents the characters. In every story you would have at least one main character, and unless this character is shipwrecked on a deserted island, like in the Life of Pi, he/she will interact with other characters. And even in the Life of Pi, there were other characters present before his shipwreck. I wrote a short story about an old demented man who was the only character.  In the novel I'm working on now I have 4 major characters, but many supporting characters. I'm glad you started this thread.

      1. Cardisa profile image91
        Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        @Quildon, if a person is writing about a demented person I can understand one character. As you said it all depends on the story.

    2. Darkproxy profile image60
      Darkproxyposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I think fans of any work get a bit uppity and entitled when it comes to stories. Even if they don't like or do like something they always find something to whine about.

      1. Cardisa profile image91
        Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        lol lol, I think you are right about that.

  2. SubRon7 profile image62
    SubRon7posted 5 years ago

    One can have as many characters as seems relevant.
    In my short story of "Thirty Seconds to the Ground" (4000 words) there were 3 "named" main characters with viewpoint, one secondary "named" character who had one brief sentence of dialogue, and several more characters who were just there--had their brief background roles--but had to be there.

    1. Cardisa profile image91
      Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Hi James. I just wrote an 8,000 word story. There are two main named characters, two supporting named characters, one unnamed character which appeared twice, a  character who didn't appear and an unnamed character with a brief line.

  3. Dee aka Nonna profile image78
    Dee aka Nonnaposted 5 years ago

    I have had a couple of friends say that a particular book had too many characters and they couldn't finish it.  I think some people have trouble keeping up with many characters when reading.  I like it either way.  When there are lots of characters interacting with each other....or even some that are there for a few scenes then disappear only add to the value of the story.  I like to read, and I read a great deal....it may make a difference.

    1. Cardisa profile image91
      Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      @Dee. Me too, I love reading and so long as the story is good, it doesn't matter how many characters there are.

  4. Richawriter profile image92
    Richawriterposted 5 years ago

    No way, Cardisa. You are right. A story should involve as many characters as it needs to give a sense of place and realism to the reader, unless of course there really are only two characters. I even have a series where I switch between 4 main characters who usually travel together throughout the series. Each gets their turn to express themselves. Keep up the good work Cardisa.

    1. Cardisa profile image91
      Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Agreed Richie. Characters are what build a story to make it seem real, bet one or as many as needed.

  5. lovebuglena profile image85
    lovebuglenaposted 5 years ago

    I don't think that's too many characters. Actually I think you can have as many characters as you need so long as they enhance your story and there is a point to them being in it.

    1. Cardisa profile image91
      Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      So right Lovebuglena. If the character helps to build the story then it doesn't matter.

      1. ajayshah2005 profile image53
        ajayshah2005posted 5 years agoin reply to this

        It depends on story.Too many characters do not reflect a good story.A story needs enough characters that makes it a good story. Sometimes reader might get confused with too many characters. Lovebuglena is right, there should be enough characters that enhance your story Cardisa.

  6. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 5 years ago

    It depends entirely in execution.  For example if you introduce each character as if they are story critical and explain their whole life up until the current day and them dump them, that becomes tiresome for readers.  Or if it is unclear what the character is even doing in the story. Or if you flit between characters so much that the reader doesn't really connect with any of them.

    1. Cardisa profile image91
      Cardisaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I totally agree there Psycheskinner. Execution plays a very important role, that is why it is great to work out your character outline and plan the story right before writing it.

      I used to just write without an outline and sometimes it turns out great, other times it just sounded like I was babbling away. Since I organized myself and develop the plot and characters before the story starts, my writing has improved greatly.


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