Do you know, I honestly don’t know how many characters there are in the Cape High universe. There’s a ton of them, that’s for sure! I’ve got teens, I’ve got parents, I’ve got super villains, I’ve got one character that’s THREE characters (she’s a duplicator.) I’ve got five different branches, with five different leaders, and five different right hand men (or women.)
So it’s not really a surprise that when I asked what to write about, Chey suggested that I explain how I deal with such a massive cast. My answer: I’m insane, and getting crazier by the book. That, my friends, is completely and utterly true. Add to that, the fact that I do each book from a different POV, alternating between male and female–Well, you really can’t expect any logic from me in an article. If this makes sense, well, I got lucky!
But seriously, let’s talk about some things I’ve learned through this journey. (Twelve books and counting!)
1.How to keep characters recognizable:
Make sure you don’t use similar names. If you’ve got a Mike and a Mark, people WILL get the two mixed up. Try to avoid names with the same number of syllables and first or last letter. Ask for name ideas! There are a lot more names than you can come up with off the top of your head. Try non-popular names or even make some up! We don’t have pictures to go by in books (well most of them) so they need to be recognized instantly by their name!
Also, pay attention to their manner of speaking. If you write a sentence without saying “Jack says/said/spoke/etc” then you want your audience to KNOW who’s speaking by how they say it. Give them little verbal ticks–their own personal ways of expressing themselves. And if you aren’t sure people will know, toss in a “Jack says.” Better safe than sorry!
2.Writing large group scenes.
Gah, I hate these things. It’s so much easier to write a scene with two or three characters. My suggestion would be to break the scene up into sections. Focus on one small group of characters to establish the main point, and then go to other small groups in the crowd to expound on it. Always remember, you can rely on your readers. You tell them it’s a large group and they’ll picture the group in their minds. Jumping around in that group will just be a close-up like in a movie. They’ll (hopefully) follow along just fine.
If you DON’T need a particular character to speak, don’t make them–or just give them a quick one-liner. If you get too intent on showing EVERY SINGLE THING spoken in the scene, you’ll overwhelm yourself and your readers.
(If someone knows a better way to write big groups, please write an article so I can take notes! I’m always open to new suggestions!)
3.In a series, regardless of some complaints you might get, always remember that not every character has to be in every book.
I picture it like this: Cape High is this large toy box at the front of my mind. There are all sorts of block style super heroes painted on it and a faint glow whenever I open the box. Inside are toys of every shape, color, and size. If I tried to pull them all out at once I would rapidly be drowned in my own toys. So when I decide to do a new book, I get on my knees in front of the box and dig out the main character.
Next is always Nico. But I don’t have to grab him because he’s already sitting on the lid of the box, having escaped when I wasn’t looking. He’s followed by an armful of other characters, which are dropped on the floor and sorted out. This leaves a lot of them still in the box, but don’t worry–I know they’re there! Finally, I sit and watch what happens with the ones I let out<3
And voilà! I’ve got a book! (Results may vary, etc, etc.)
And probably some new cast members. /sobs/
Have questions? Suggestions for my next article? Leave a note, I’d love to hear!