My #1 Tip For Managing a Large Cast of Main Characters


If you're anything like me, you either LOVE books with 5+ main characters or you've written one at some point. Large casts of main characters can be an awesome way to showcase many different sides of the story and add realistic complexity to your story (when needed), but they can also be super overwhelming to write and read. This is something I struggled with for a while, but lately I've been using a technique that's really helped!

Isolate the motive of each of your characters, then use that to guide their storyline.

What does each character want? Why? How long have they wanted this? How do they plan to get it? What personality traits of theirs relate to this motive? Remember, each character can have more than one motive! But the larger the cast, the less motives each should have. Six characters with three motives each is a lot to keep track of, but six characters with one motive each is manageable.

Write all this information down for each character in as much detail as you can. Make sure that the motive of each character is very distinct. If you have two characters with nearly the same motive, consider revising one character or consolidating them. I made a page in my writing notebook for each of my eight main characters in my Death of the Skies series.

Now that you've isolated and developed each character's motive, use that to guide their storyline. If you're going to have a large cast of main characters, each needs to offer a unique point of view and showcase a different part of the story. Using each character's unique motive to guide their storyline helps ensure each storyline is distinct and unique, which is hugely important. If every character has a distinct purpose, motive, and role in the story, the cast becomes immensely easier for both you and the reader to keep track of. Your story also becomes a lot easier to plot - simply ask yourself how the characters' motivations will rub up against each others', then plot with those interactions as a starting point for conflicts and tensions.

So, let's chat! Do you often read or write large casts of main characters? What other how-to writing articles would you like to see me post? Comment below, and remember that you are all very beautiful pickles.

Namarië,
Ellie

4 comments:

  1. This is a great tip! Most of my casts of characters tend to be around 4, and I have struggled to make them distinct in their motives and voices, but this will definitely help me with that. Thanks for the post! XD

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

      - Ellie

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  2. AHHHH THIS IS SO HELPFUL. I've been working on this high fantasy novel on and off for 4 years, and this is SO helpful bc it has a huge cast and I've had a hard time with it.
    Great post!

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