While going through my weekly updates for blogs I’m following, I came across this article by Connie J. Jasperson
I’ll post an excerpt, but to get the full explanation, you must go to her website. She explains it much better than I could.
You’re writing the first draft of your novel. A beta reader has pointed out that you may have too many named characters to keep track of, and now you’re on a mission to whittle down your cast of thousands.
But who should go and who should stay? What is the optimal number of characters for a book? Some say only four, others fifteen, but I say introduce however many characters it takes to tell the story but use common sense. Put the reader first–they must be able to keep them straight without any effort.
When you introduce a named character, ask yourself if it is someone the reader should remember. Does he or she offer information the protagonist and reader must know? Some characters will give us clues to help our protagonist complete his/her quest. Others show us something about the protagonist, give us a clue into their personality or past.
Now, where this hit me is in considering a new project I thought of. I #amwriting a story about a Werewolf community, the thought being to have every chapter revolve around either a popular proverb or idiom, alternating each (proverb in one chapter, idiom in the next, then another proverb, etc.), and in alphabetical order by the first letter of the main word in the saying. That would give me 26 chapters, plus the introduction, which has it’s own themed saying.
I’m also trying to do this story differently than I’ve done on any other I’ve written. I usually just start writing, letting the words flow as they come into my mind. “Pantsing” is a term for it, also “winging it.” Writing by the seat of your pants.
This time, I’m working on having at least a partial outline, getting characters lined up to use, making up settings- all in advance. I have no idea how it will work, but it’s an idea I’m going to try.
Connie’s post really came at a good time, as it lets me know I shouldn’t go through and make a profile for every single Werewolf I include in the story. Indeed, I probably shouldn’t even make names for more than, say, a dozen outside of the five or six main players.
So, with my work cut out for me… or rather, still being cut, I shall leave you with this info to assimilate. I hope it helps someone else as it has me. Leave me a comment, or leave her one on her site, and let us know if you find it helpful, too!