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In my book, I start out by introducing the main character, her uncle, and her mother in one scene. The next scene involves her grandparents, and the next is about five more characters after that. The first two scenes are in one chapter, but the five new characters are in the next. How do I know if this is too many characters introduced at once?

I've heard that you shouldn't introduce too many characters all at once, and I'm not sure if this falls into that category. Does this advice mean not to introduce ten characters in one scene, or does it mean over an extended period of time? If it means over an extended period of time, I'm not sure if I fall into that category or not.

For reference, my genre is YA fantasy and this is the first novel I've written.

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  • @Sciborg Yes that was what I was looking for. I couldn't find a question that answered what I needed and this does-thank you! Sep 13 '20 at 2:08
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I don't think these are necessarily too many characters. I would worry more about having an extended period of the story where nothing happens but slowly meeting more characters.

Also, knowing about the main character plus four other people from their immediate family seems normal or even minimal (if they lived in the house, why weren't they mentioned until now?).

Plus, you should also take into account the significance of the characters. If the reader only needs to process that the main character has two very nice grandparents, that barely counts. If you are introducing lots of characters, similarly named, that the reader will have to differentiate, then you may have a problem.

I would say the main issue would be if some chapters later you mention "Fred asked the character to come to his home" and the reader -who last read about Fred three days ago- does not remember who is Fred. A boyfriend, a teacher, her grandfather? Using qualifiers, and referring back to the what was told would significantly help.

Compare the above questions (each leading to outcomes) with a minor change: "Uncle Fred asked the character…". Or within the near context "I'll be there shortly, uncle Fred".

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