Normally, it is recommended that you limit your main characters to a few, meaning the characters of which you delve deeply into their own stories. And then your periferal characters that you only touch lightly without getting too much into their backstory, some are only bystanders.
I've been criticised, by only a few by the way - count on one hand, about the number of main characters I write in my novels. Let me explain ...
1. First, I write protagonist Rachel O'Neill and whoever her significant other is at the time in all the novels. She is the central character in "Trafalgar", the first novel, but takes a second seat in some of the following novels. But she is still a common thread and an integral part as the saga continues in the planned 12-novel series.
2. Second, I write a second leading female/protagonist: in Trafalgar, it's Belinda; in Eiffel, it's Shellie; in Brussels, it's Amanda; in Moscow, it's Della ... and so forth. Also included are the antagonists and love interests of these women.
In each novel, there is an ensemble cast, so to speak, but that new cast of characters is not limited to only those in that particular novel, some of the previous characters are brought back in for whatever reason, and there is always a good reason.
So that is how I write.
When I read Maeve Benchey, who is among my favorite British novelists (Ken Follett, Jack Whyte, Phillipa Gregory, Catherine Cookson, Thomas Hardy, Bernard Cornwell, etc.) it is incredible to watch how she weaves a tremendous amount of characters in one novel. It goes against all the so-called rules. But you know what? It works. It isn't confusing. And she also brings back characters from previous books, I love that.
Other best-selling authors veer off the "rules", too.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is ... if it works, and doesn't confuse the reader, if you can create a smooth read, no stumbling, then anything goes. To hell with the rules. Be innovative, be creative, be brave, be yourself. It's your own particular style and voice that will set you apart from all the others.
I'm editing and publishing a novel at the moment, to be released in September - NAKED IN THE TUB WITH VERA - by A. Paul Bergen. This one is exactly what I'm talking about. He has a very special voice and style and is loaded with talent. His philosophical education comes into play here, as well as his study of religions. And a terrific sense of humor tops it all. You'll have to read this one for sure.
Other new authors come to mind who have a unique style and voice and will undoubtedly hit those best-seller lists one of these days. They are Vincent Zandri, E. Don Harpe, Edd Voss, David Rosenberg - the first three are on the RJBP roster.
1. Zandri is a terific thriller novelist, RJBP published his MOONLIGHT FALLS, and he is destined to be a well-known writer.
2. E. Don Harpe's downhome memoir LAST OF THE SOUTH TOWN RINKY DINKS is an incredible write with rave reviews.
3. We're releasing a collection of short stories RAMBLING by Edd Voss in December, another unique voice.
4. David Rosenberg writes political thrillers to be reckoned with (wish we had him on our roster).
SOOOOO ... write write write, try anything. As long as it is easy to read, has memorable characters and a good story, is a page turner, therefore not confusing, you'll be successful! You don't have to abide by any other rules.
Welcome to my blog. Here I'll talk about almost anything. Depends on the mood of the day. I'll also talk about publishing, writing techniques, and editing ... subjects close to my heart. So today, anytime you feel like it, feel free to jump in ... click on the COMMENTS link at the end of a post and give your opinion. If you sign in "anonymous" to comment, it's easier, just be sure you say who you are in the content of your comment.