So, I have five MCs in my novel and I ALWAYS do this. I start to contemplate on if I truly need five MCs who are the focus to the plot/story, throughout the whole novel series. Like they story focuses on them then gets to a point where the characters meet or lives intertwine and they work together in the end.
Honestly, I am not as great with focusing on more than one MC than I thought I was. So, there’s a good chance I won’t need five after all.
I want to focus on a single character’s journey through the story and their meeting with other characters who also play an important role. I get this idea that when I start a novel series, that I need five characters or more who all play a role in the story.
Two characters mean something romantic happening, regardless of gender, at least to me. So, I need an uneven group of MAIN characters doing something relating to the plot, but I get stumped because the story really need just one or two characters and using five is tiresome.
Anyway, I wanted to get real and ask question about published novel series that has MORE than one MAIN character.
How many MAIN characters can you focus on before the story gets confusing in terms of too many characters getting the spotlight?
I was thinking if I should give each of the characters a part.
Like Part 1: (enter character’s name) and chapters 1 to whatever focuses on that character solely. Is that what you mean?
The problem is would any reader want to read a story focusing on five characters who are only tied together by plot, but won’t ever meet each as the story progresses? I don’t even know if I would read a book like that…maybe.
I read a book with five, surprisingly, all the same gender and all in first person. Each chapter was one of the characters and it alternated. It wasn’t fantasy though and it wasn’t a series. But the voices were all distinct and the stories, although sometimes connected, were all unique to each character.
For a series, I think I can tolerate five at most if the voices are all distinct. I haven’t read one with five, but in Shannon Hale’s Book of Bayern series, there were four main characters and they were all involved with each other in some way. If you don’t read the books in chronological order, you do get confused how the characters are related. But they were all easy to remember.
Isi was the first character in the series. She’s the strong and kind character who is a princess and also obviously good at being a leader. Enna, (that’s not where I got my name XD) was the girl with a fiery personality and tough and had a temper (she didn’t like Isi at first). Razo is the boy who gets in trouble and he’s younger than all of the others, so he was easy to remember. The last one was Rin and she’s the quiet girl who loves her family and many siblings and spends time alone in the forest.
So, they were all really distinct from each other, so even if there was a lot to remember, I got used to each of them in each book, so by the time they all appear in the last book, I’m familiar with all of them. I might not remember all the details of their adventures or who knows what information, but I know enough and I can enjoy it.
One was working at a library and she was always the nice one. Friendly. Her POV would make it seem like the library was a great place to be. Sunlight streaming in. Warm and happy. People come in from the rain to dry off.
Second frequented the library but her reason was to get away from home. She was also the one who would talk to people but want to be alone. She would be friendly but faking it. It was obvious she was hiding something. Her POV made everything feel as if the happiness wasn’t real.
Third one was another woman who would visit the library and she used to live in that town, left, and had come back recently. She was also hiding something and knew something. Everything seems suspicious from her POV.
Fourth one was a woman who was angry. She would come to library and be told to leave. Switching to her POV we see that she’s short-tempered because of things going on at home. Everything from her POV was like she’s always fighting something.
Fifth woman was hinted at throughout the story as one of the woman’s sister. She’s the one who would never leave the house. Her POV was only in her room the entire time and it was dark and gloomy.
It was pretty well done, actually. Didn’t find out who the fifth woman was related to until the end and boy was it a shocker. I didn’t see it coming at all because of all the women, none of the stories took place in their houses. Only the library and their cars.
Yet, I can never remember the title of the book for some reason
Personally, I think you only need one main character. But I am also telling my story through the point of view of three different “main characters”. Even so, you can still easily tell that Alma is the main character and Errol and Brook-Lynn are only secondary main characters. I think it helps organize things when you have one main character and then maybe two or three secondary characters, if you need them. I wouldn’t do more than that though, or things start to get convoluted and difficult both to write and to read very fast.
I think the most main characters I’ve cycled through in a story is four.
I went out of practice at it for about a decade when I challenged myself to write solely from a single perspective, but have since proved my point to myself and have started using multiple POV to tell a story. I try to be sure that the shifts are done in such a way that it is clear who the next person taking over the perspective is going to be.
The latest attempt is all in first person, present tense, so it’s been an interesting trick to be sure it’s clear who’s talking.
Okay if I read a book like that, I’d at least like to see how the characters are related to each other or have some sort of interaction. It’s unfortunate that I don’t recall the book’s title but there’s a book I read and it centered on 4 MCs. Each of the characters had a select number of chpts and the author seamlessly fitted the prev character arc into the new one without making it too obv.
I may be wrong–I probably am–but it seems to me that every book has one main character, and then a number of somewhat lesser characters. Even romance novels tend to put more importance on one character over the other. For instance, Song of Achilles is a romance, but it’s filtered through the pov of Patroclus, so he ultimately has more importance than Achilles.
War and Peace had millions of characters, four or five main ones, but ultimately Pierre is the most important. Have you tried filtering your story through the pov of one main character, and letting the others slide into the role of supporting character? I agree with NARB that you should focus on one mc in each book in the series. ☜(ˆ▿ˆc)