Now that I’ve opened my plans for the novel back up, working through it scene by scene, I’m asking myself whether I have the right number of main characters. There are six good guys (plus three bad guys – bad, badder, and baddest). Now I’m asking myself whether I really need all six of them, or whether I can combine and rearrange to have a tighter, more streamlined cast of characters. In a loose, theoretical kind of way, here are the people I have now:
- The main character, who believes she has proved to be untrustworthy where it counted and therefore she must never again allow anyone to really count on her. She has cut herself off from friends and lover.
- The love interest, the MC’s ex. She walked out on him years ago for reasons she has never told anyone, and it hurt him deeply. Especially since he needed desperately for her to be there, but never had the chance to tell her. Clearly, rebuilding trust between them is the main emotional arc of the story.
- Two of the MC’s old friends, women she also lost touch with when she went AWOL. One is trusting and always sees the best in others; the MC would love to be like that, but doesn’t see that it’s possible. The other is kind of a control freak, and represents the extreme of what the MC has become to protect herself and those around her.
- Two folks who are coupled with the two old friends. One is the man her trusting friend just married. He’s kind and wise, and is a scientist with knowledge that can answer important questions about what happened to the MC and how to solve the plot issues. The other is a women in love with the controlling friend. She is smart and sassy, brave and bold, and the two of them drive each other crazy (one too controlling, one too laid back), but they care completely about each other. These two relationships remind the MC of how committed relationships can work, holding up the standard she’d love to have but doesn’t think she deserves.
Can I combine the two couples into one? Here’s a possible plan:
- The ex becomes the controlled and controlling one. He’s walled himself off, just as the MC has, in response to the pain she caused. Breaking down both their barriers is the work of the story.
- The trusting friend is still trusting and open. She’s also the scientist with the secret knowledge.
- The trusting friend marries the sassy, bold woman (the story is set in New York where such couples can marry – yay!). Their relationship shows the MC how such things can work, and I still get both the bold fighter and the mentor with arcane knowledge.
This plan would give me four good guys to balance the three bad guys (don’t worry, they’re REALLY bad, and this will not come off as a fight the good guys should expect to win). Now the question is whether this will make the story too spare, without enough people in it to carry the whole tale. Also, whether this will actually work for the plot points I need. Must think more about this, before completely revising things.
What do you think? More the merrier? Or prune the guest list down to the minimum? Any advice here would be great.