I used to have too many characters.

In one of my earlier series (I think I ended up with nine books that ran in groups of three story-wise) I had over 100 characters to keep track of. Quite a few of those characters ended up dead by the end of the book (and the main character died a few times as well.) I had lists, and notebooks of who was where/when/why/how to keep them all straight. I probably introduced a new character every five pages or so.

It never got worse than that, but in my one trilogy, I ended up with 73 characters to keep track of, and I lost them right and left. Finally, I decided that I didn't need all those characters, and tried to write a book with less than ten 'named' characters. It worked. (I think that was about the same time I stopped reading quest fantasies, too.)

Since then I haven't written a book with a "cast of thousands", and I don't intend to write one ever again. I rather like working with less than five POV characters (and in some cases, like the Jacob Lane series, only one POV character), and I don't introduce new secondary characters (if I can help it) after the book is halfway finished. (Secondary to me is someone with more than a page of lines.)

Well, the Beth-Hill series is going to be the death of me, I tell you. Not only does it connect with AbNo and AlSo (Sennet), the Jacob Lane series (Lucas, Solomon), and the Shadows trilogy (Michael), Fire and Water has fifteen recurring characters that aren't secondary. Fifteen! Of those fifteen, seven have had POV chapters. There are two, maybe three, plot lines going, and it's been a struggle not to have cardboard characters standing around when they've been in a group together. I have to pay attention to everybody. (I think this is why F&W has been giving me fits, actually. Or at least one of the reasons.)

It's my own fault, of course. I'm so enamoured with the Wild Hunt that I gave Gabriel, Malachi, and Nathaniel POV chapters. Sarah and Michael are the 'main' characters, ostentatiously, but Gabriel and the Hunt are doing their best to take over the story. And I should have seen this coming.

In the end, I might just give the book to them and not make any bones about it. But it's going to become even more difficult if I enter in new Council members as well as new Hounds... I'm going to have to watch my character list and make sure it doesn't grow too much. I don't want a "cast of thousands" again, after all. It was far too much work to begin with. But to find a happy medium, say, a cast of fifty, tops, will be hard as I write this series. There are only supposed to be seven books, but there's also the whole population of Beth-Hill to think of... both super and natural. This might be more difficult than it looks...


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