marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

claustrophobia vs. casts of thousands

I've read a lot of advice to minimize the cast of characters in a story.  Which has its points.  OTOH, I've read a number of works that took it too seriously.  A great royal court with half a dozen people.  The main characters always happening to get the same character in some menial role.  It makes the world seem claustrophobic.  Not to mention utterly lacking in realistic clutter.

Then, a cast of thousands has its difficulty too.  A lot of them are basically part of the scenery and can be brushed over with brief allusions.  But when the main characters interact with them, they have to keep them apart.  Talking crowds can be very annoying when the POV character doesn't know everyone's name.  And then there's when the POV character logically would know everyone's name, but the character is trivial and you don't want to misled the readers into thinking he's important. . . .


The writing life is full of dilemmas.

Tags: characters, local color, minor characters, names, orchestrating characters, point of view, writing technique

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