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Post Reply How many main characters should you have your story?
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18 / M / Ohio, Cincinnati
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Posted 6/19/14
Length of a chapter, likely from 3 ~ 4 pages long.
How many main characters?
Oh well you can have how ever many you freaking desire, who's holding you back from that? if they don't like it well, tell em' "get lost"
In my stories although having how ever many I want, I usually only have from 1 ~ 3 because I haven't gotten that advanced in writing since I am too busy with working and family biz.

So yeah hope that helps!
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 6/19/14

KatsukeYukagu wrote:

Length of a chapter, likely from 3 ~ 4 pages long.
How many main characters?
Oh well you can have how ever many you freaking desire, who's holding you back from that? if they don't like it well, tell em' "get lost"
In my stories although having how ever many I want, I usually only have from 1 ~ 3 because I haven't gotten that advanced in writing since I am too busy with working and family biz.

So yeah hope that helps!


Thanks.
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27 / F
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Posted 6/19/14
It really depends on what the story is.

I don't know if you've read A Song of Ice and Fire. The author has tons of point of view characters going. I personally thought it worked best when there were around ten. Now there are so many that it is slowing down the pace of the story. Hmm, War and Peace has four true main characters and about 500 other characters and it works just fine. But of course both of these stories are super long. I can't think of a short example off the top of my head that has lots of characters.

Chapters are just convenient breaks. A lot of early novels were serialized, so that dictated things. And of course the modern novel is not a very old format. Non fiction books are divided into chapters by subject, and of course the Bible has chapter division to make it easier to reference. Chapters are probably borrowed from that kind of convention. I know Terry Pratchett didn't use chapters for the Discworld books. They are just one big block of story. I seem to remember that Kurt Vonnegut used strange chapter lengths, some long, some only half a page. There are no rules. Catch 22 has a crazy structure where the chapters are not in chronological order and you have to read pretty much the whole book to figure out how everything fits together. And then it is devastating, suddenly. Brilliant stuff.

I am working on a novel. I haven't thought about chapters yet. I figure once I am done with the first round of editing I will re-think how the story is divided. And I have two main characters. The story demanded it.
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36 / M / Denver
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Posted 6/20/14
Ooo I finally get to share this perception *rubs his greedy hands together*.

How many characters can you/should you have? There are the standard legitimate answers, but there's really only one blunt fact : as many as you can pull off.

Look at Bleach. That anime had, as far as I'm aware, every character archetype. A lot of characters didn't see any action, but it seemed as though Tite Kubo couldn't make up his mind which characters he wanted, so he simply had all of them. And as we know from the numbers, it worked.
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 6/22/14



I've only ever watched GOT. The show has too many main characters that it can get a bit confusing sometimes. I actually like that though for some reason. I should test it out in my story somehow.
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26 / M / In a dumpster wit...
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Posted 10/19/14
1 main character and a few main supporting ones. Then a extra set of regular supporting ones.

Easy to focus the story onto something without thinking too much on how to equalize every characters role.

And the length depends on the kind of story.

Short story should be only a few pages at most.

A regular story should have a few pages per chapter. 3 pages if you want to be lazy like me. But the amount of pages doesn't matter. Because it's all about context. Not quantity. Quality over quantity. The more you have to read, the worst it'll be since so many people are too stupid not to practice the tl;dr nonsense that only 8th graders do.
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20 / M
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Posted 12/24/14
As many as you feel you can handle. As long as you can give them all around equal character development you should be fine. As for the chapters, I'm not really sure since I don't write books.

I'm writing a visual novel lol.
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18 / F / Moving account
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Posted 12/24/14
how many main characters you have depends on how good you are at writing, the style of writing and the story line itself.
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22 / F / Winding Circle
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Posted 12/26/14
Many writers can handle 6 main characters at once. The important thing is, are they necessary for the plot? Are/will they get some development? Can you make sure each character gets the 'screen' time they need? And not everyone is good at the last two things. Not even Tolkien was necessarily an expert at it; it wasn't until the Fellowship disbanded that we really got to know Legolas and Gimli, and even Merry and Pippin and Aragorn and Sam and Frodo, sure he covered some of them more than others but mostly it was just vague references to what they did...

And it really is possible, you just can't neglect the characters even if they aren't necessary for the scene. I'm writing a Fairy Tail fanfiction right now as well as other fanfictions and an original work. Fairy Tail has the biggest cast of characters and my story has 5 main characters plus a character that is probably going to be close to being a main character. Right now, the main focus is on four of the characters because they're all in the same place and the plot revolves around one of those characters, but I'm not neglecting the other main character; instead I slip in a scene or two about that character and the side character in every chapter; as much as I can.

As for chapter lengths. *shrugs* It really depends on your style. Some people do short chapters, others do long, and then there's those who vary in between or do both. Personally, I figure out my goals for the chapter, and as long as the chapter isn't too short and I cover them, and the chapter isn't also too long (because sometimes I underestimate how many words a scene will take), I don't care much about how long my chapters are.

Granted, in my most recent novel I'm 15k words in and haven't put in a chapter divider yet. I think I will only be able to do so once I get the novel finished. Right now I can't see any good points to break up my narrative into chapters... and that's okay too. Writing is a process. Some people need detailed, proper outlines, others just need notes. Some people need to write in silence, others don't. Some people write things out of order, others don't. Everyone does things differently, and if you choose to wait on deciding chapters, that's okay. That's like the most important thing I've seen when I've tried to find out how long chapters should be, how long a short story should be, etc. Everyone does things differently.
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33 / M / outer wall, level...
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Posted 12/27/14
how many? dunno. i got 2 main, 5 secondary, and about a dozen scenery charters. im only 30k words in.

as for chapters, dunno.

and yes, im writing a novel. either it will get published, or ill relased it on fictionpress. but i want to finish it first.
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17 / M
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Posted 1/1/15
I have roughly five main characters and quite a vast range of supporting characters for a light novel series I am planning out. Of course, you should also be able to identify the main protagonists, which should usually be around three.
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26 / M
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Posted 1/10/15
In my opinion, there really is no set limit for how many is too many main characters. I think six would work just fine. What is important is the character development and whether you allot enough time for each character to feel like a main character to the reader.
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30 / M / Cali
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Posted 1/15/15
I've written a few novels with main characters ranging from three to ten and chapters from five pages to forty. Really it's a matter of what fits with the story and what you can make work. If it feels too bogged down or if some characters feel unnecessary then chop them.

That is hands down the best advice I've ever received as a writer, chop chop chop. Anything that slows down the story or "will matter in ten books" but doesn't now, needs to go. Even if you love it. I've cut my favorite characters out just because the story worked exactly the same without them. So really there is no guideline for characters or chapters. Just stay true to the story and don't over-inflate it just because you want every idea you have to be forced in. There's always a different story for those ideas, but if they don't work with the one you're writing, then they just don't work.
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