Sunday, March 13, 2005

Do you have too many characters?

Classic short stories tend to have only two or three characters in them. More are too difficult for the reader to distinguish. Use "character compression" -- if you need a character who is the hero's brother, and you need a character who's a painter, the hero's brother had better be a painter. If a character merely walks onto the scene briefly, furthers an action for a major character, and then leaves -- DO NOT GIVE THIS CHARACTER A NAME. Merely mention the character by job title, or function, or some other brief means. Otherwise you distract the reader needlessly. -- Rachel Holmen

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