The problem with too many characters

Happy Monday everyone!

So, this monday I want to talk about how to introduce characters when you have a lot of them. One of my biggest pet peeves is reading a story that introduces all their characters at once. And I’m talking about the main character being introduced to like, five new characters at once.

I can think of a few Wattpad stories that does this; they introduce five characters at the same time, and expect you to remember who they are.

Here’s the problem. When you introduce five characters all at once, I will never remember who is who. First, you can’t properly create a reader-character relationship when there are too many characters introduced at the same time. And bonus points if they are all the same gender.

So, if you’re planning on having a crew of characters, please introduce them separately, not all at once.

And make sure you give the character space to become themselves before introducing the next. For example, if you want your character to have a love triangle, don’t introduce the two love interests at the same time. Introduce the first, then give that character space. In the Hunger Games, the two love interests are Gale and Peeta. Both characters are introduced at separate times, and both characters had enough time to become someone memorable. Now, if Peeta and Gale were introduced at the same time, the reader would certainly be confused and mix the two up.

Each character should have had their own time to grow on the reader, rather than being thrown at the reader all at once. And the problem with this is that the character would try to establish themselves, but got muddled in the other characters who were also trying to establish themselves. So we have multiple characters, all with different personalities, and all trying to become memorable. This is confusing for the reader.

So, what should you do if you’re in a similar situation?

GIVE THE CHARACTER THEIR OWN INTRODUCTION. Let them grow on the reader, and let the reader have a chance to become attached to said character. And then bring the others on, one by one. (Or, you can even bring them on in twos if you wish.)

And, what’s the best way to introduce a new character? Let the character be themselves, unapologetically. And make them stand out; don’t have three football playing boys be introduced at the same time with the same personalities. Have a football player that is all about sports and getting into a good football college. Have a band geek that loves to write music. Have an artist that is interested in graffiti. Give your characters personality, and give them there own ambitions. And give them time to introduce themselves. Three football players with the same ambitions will create characters that aren’t interesting. Three popular girls all into the same stuff is also boring. We want interesting characters that are their own person. And we want to meet them separately

No more introductions that go like: “This is Mary, and this is Jenny, and this is Lisa. Mary is a brunette and she loves math class. Jenny is blonde and likes to paint. And Lisa has black hair and enjoys playing the guitar.”  How will the reader ever tell the difference between Mary, Jenny, and Lisa if they are all introduced at the same time? How will I remember that Mary likes math?

I won’t.

So, the moral of this post is this: do not introduce all your characters all at once. Introduce maybe two at most, if you want your readers to not be confused by the onslaught of new characters. Even when watching movies it’s confusing, and at least with movies you can see what the characters look like.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their Monday!


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