We’ve talked about killing off characters more than once on this blog…but today we’re discussing how many characters you should keep ALIVE to complete your tale.
First of all, you need your protagonist. Usually there is only one of these but sometimes there are more. It takes a certain type of writer to have more than one protagonist.
Character count: 1
Next up, we have the deuterangonist. Or more commonly known as the sidekick. Let the confusion start here. Limit your sidekick to a single being, or two. To this we say: have fun. They’re very important characters who need to be just as well-crafted as the protagonist. If you’re still getting the hang of writing, stick to one.
Character count: 2
The antagonist becomes our next character to focus on. Don’t be fooled though; the antagonist doesn’t always have to be another person. Your protagonist could have very real inner demons they can’t shake like struggling with mental health, addiction…and so on. This should almost always be a single thing. Think of it as your target that you’ve zeroed in on and need to destroy. Your protagonist would think the same thing.
Character count: 3
Love. If your character finds their love along the way, there’s another character to include on your list. The love interest character could cross over in being a deuterangonist. There’s one less character you have to flesh out!
Character count: 3-4
If your main character is on an epic journey for the books, a mentor is always a plus. Most characters aren’t all-knowing and if they are in your book…well, this is about to get awkward. Keep a mentor down to one…they usually get killed off at some point.
Character count: 4-5
Secondary characters matter, as well. Two of these slightly developed beings in your story would be enough. Your subplots usually revolve around these characters and they contribute to the main plot line with the protagonist.
Character count: 6-7
Last but not least, we have the tertiary characters. These are the characters that aren’t really talked about in great detail but they’re still contributing to the protagonist’s journey the number to this is subject to the kind of story you’re writing.
Then you’ll have flat characters that aren’t too important at all. These are the characters your protagonist comes across in passing.
How many characters do you limit yourself to in your writing? How many do you think is appropriate?