Multiple Main Characters

#1
Hey all,

I'm currently writing a fiction with 3 (current, aiming to have 5) main characters, which is also written in first person. One of my biggest issues has been making sure that there aren't just a whole bunch of meaningless characters being introduced. How do you cope with effectively unrelated perspectives in the early stages of your writing?

Re: Multiple Main Characters

#2
Yo, the question you need to answer is: do you have five MC‘s that do their own thing/have their own arc even though they are related to each other. Or do you have five MC‘s that mostly are in the same arc.

In my case it was the former and that made it easier since I focussed on writing arcs, before changing POV‘s rather than changing POV‘s a few times a chapter or every two chapters. But nonetheless multiple lead is still a hard challenge, as in my case if every MC‘s had their own 5 side characters, there would be 30 characters automatically. 

That alone limits one by quit a bit, as neither you nor the readers will be able to keep track with all the characters. Another problem is that if you write mini arcs before changing POV, you will end up like me at chapter 120, with no real progress, as everyone had at most 25 chapters story worth.

In the end Multiple lead is a tricky one and I just chose to write mini arcs rather than changing to unnecessary POVs. 

Re: Multiple Main Characters

#3
Author with five main characters, here. I constantly wonder why I do these things to myself-

Haha, nah, it's quite challenging, but I like people with multiple viewpoints or completely strangers sandwiched together for the one goal. 

Embrace the fact that they are different. Have them bounce off each other, for good or bad. And really think about how does it take for different people to align interests or bond. Also, reflect on the nature of how they came to be in the first place--how they met and the context around it.

For me, it's a shared traumatic experience with my girls. As a result, they're very cagey with each other, their banter is solely based on how dysfunctional they are--light moments for that, surprisingly enough, like simple things of "how did you grow up like this?!" in regards to my character Maddie, who's this street punk that's so crass and had a very messed up life, but jokes about it. But hey, they went through this one thing--is continually facing this one thing--so in their best interest, they have to band together and also realize that they're the only ones that can talk to each other.

Not saying to make your crew like mine, but see how much that colored their interactions and thus, made them an interesting group for some people.

TL;DR: embrace the different, have fun with the different, how the different can end with the same end point

Re: Multiple Main Characters

#4
Ooof, first person? That's a bold choice! Aha! I will just say first of all that I think with first person, the thing to watch out for is making sure they sound different- but as you've not asked about that, you maybe have that bit nailed, so kudos! 

From the outset, mine was always going to have a whole bunch of characters, so I too had that same question about how to introduce them in the early stages. I went with what I think of the Avengers Model: Start with individuals doing their thing and then bring them together after a while.... And NOT just plonking them all together at the very beginning and hoping people have a clue of what's happening with little build up. *Cough* DCEU. 

I opted to introduce the "newbies" (other world aliens and one time 'traveller') to the world I wanted to have them in.
  • I established one character, then introduced another. 
  • Brought them together and then they met a set of triplets. 
  • They all then had a mini-event together which then connected them to the rest of the world. 
This isn't me saying what's the right way of course, it's just what I chose to do and what worked (debatably) for me.
The first 10 'chapters' were just for the newbies to establish them before I then started bringing in the rest. That way, we already knew half the new line up and I could introduce the other characters.
The "newbies" were new to the world, like my readersreader would have been, so it seemed like a good entry point. 


So what I'm saying, I guess is, do it slowly, and give them a purpose-something that brings them together- if you can in the early stages and possibly start with the character newest to the situation you have going on, perhaps?

Multiple characters will always buzz someone the wrong way. You'll get them into one character and then switch to another in order to introduce them and that will annoy some people. If you can handle that, then plough on. Some people will stick by you and your story because of that. 

Re: Multiple Main Characters

#5

unknownking Wrote: Yo, the question you need to answer is: do you have five MC‘s that do their own thing/have their own arc even though they are related to each other. Or do you have five MC‘s that mostly are in the same arc.

In my case it was the former and that made it easier since I focussed on writing arcs, before changing POV‘s rather than changing POV‘s a few times a chapter or every two chapters. But nonetheless multiple lead is still a hard challenge, as in my case if every MC‘s had their own 5 side characters, there would be 30 characters automatically. 

That alone limits one by quit a bit, as neither you nor the readers will be able to keep track with all the characters. Another problem is that if you write mini arcs before changing POV, you will end up like me at chapter 120, with no real progress, as everyone had at most 25 chapters story worth.

In the end Multiple lead is a tricky one and I just chose to write mini arcs rather than changing to unnecessary POVs.


My characters are in converging arcs and will grow to be familiar with one another over time, eventually converging.


mer_curry Wrote: Author with five main characters, here. I constantly wonder why I do these things to myself-

Haha, nah, it's quite challenging, but I like people with multiple viewpoints or completely strangers sandwiched together for the one goal. 

Embrace the fact that they are different. Have them bounce off each other, for good or bad. And really think about how does it take for different people to align interests or bond. Also, reflect on the nature of how they came to be in the first place--how they met and the context around it.

For me, it's a shared traumatic experience with my girls. As a result, they're very cagey with each other, their banter is solely based on how dysfunctional they are--light moments for that, surprisingly enough, like simple things of "how did you grow up like this?!" in regards to my character Maddie, who's this street punk that's so crass and had a very messed up life, but jokes about it. But hey, they went through this one thing--is continually facing this one thing--so in their best interest, they have to band together and also realize that they're the only ones that can talk to each other.

Not saying to make your crew like mine, but see how much that colored their interactions and thus, made them an interesting group for some people.

TL;DR: embrace the different, have fun with the different, how the different can end with the same end point


Well, the characters can't bounce off of one another, save for their contextual decisions, seeing as they're not actually with one another, which is where my fear that it feels like I'm just piling on characters for the sake of it comes from.


EnhancedBeing Wrote: Ooof, first person? That's a bold choice! Aha! I will just say first of all that I think with first person, the thing to watch out for is making sure they sound different- but as you've not asked about that, you maybe have that bit nailed, so kudos! 

From the outset, mine was always going to have a whole bunch of characters, so I too had that same question about how to introduce them in the early stages. I went with what I think of the Avengers Model: Start with individuals doing their thing and then bring them together after a while.... And NOT just plonking them all together at the very beginning and hoping people have a clue of what's happening with little build up. *Cough* DCEU. 

I opted to introduce the "newbies" (other world aliens and one time 'traveller') to the world I wanted to have them in.
  • I established one character, then introduced another. 
  • Brought them together and then they met a set of triplets. 
  • They all then had a mini-event together which then connected them to the rest of the world. 
This isn't me saying what's the right way of course, it's just what I chose to do and what worked (debatably) for me.
The first 10 'chapters' were just for the newbies to establish them before I then started bringing in the rest. That way, we already knew half the new line up and I could introduce the other characters.
The "newbies" were new to the world, like my readersreader would have been, so it seemed like a good entry point. 


So what I'm saying, I guess is, do it slowly, and give them a purpose-something that brings them together- if you can in the early stages and possibly start with the character newest to the situation you have going on, perhaps?

Multiple characters will always buzz someone the wrong way. You'll get them into one character and then switch to another in order to introduce them and that will annoy some people. If you can handle that, then plough on. Some people will stick by you and your story because of that.


I don't want to just say I've got it nailed, or anything, but I think I've done a solid job of differentiating the way they view the world and how they interact with others. 

Thank you all for the notes!

Re: Multiple Main Characters

#6

ccaramel Wrote: written in first person.
First? Any particular reason you aren't writing in third limited?

Nothing wrong with multiple POV's in and of itself. Just make sure everyone is aware of the change when it happens. Find some way of beating the readers over the head with the POV change in or before the first sentence or be prepared for annoyed comments about not knowing who's speaking.
As far as having effectively unrelated POV's in your story... Well, they're in the same book, so the audience will presume they're related in some way. As long as the dots start to connect by chapter, eh, 15 or so you should be good.