I have two characters in mind, both share many traits.

One of them is a side character (E) and one is a supporting (Z), but I'm wondering if I should mesh them together into Z.

E only appears in two scenes but is mentioned other times. Z is in a lot more scenes (I couldn't tell you how many), so to me, it makes sense to delete E and make him part of Z. Should I keep E to fill out the book, or delete him?

Any advice is appreciated, thank you!

  • 3
    We just need a lot more before we can answer. Sauron himself does not appear in the books but he is constantly mentioned and his presence is a huge influence. Contrast that with the comic relief who was no purpose besides cracking jokes, check terrible writing advice on that. So ultimately we need to know what is going on and what is your purpose. Your characters are tools to an end. We need to know the end and know how you utilize those tools before saying. Like using a hammer to cut meat, probably use a skin. But if you want to tenderize it, then hammer time baby!
    – Seallussus
    Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 23:35
  • Agreed. This question is too bare bones. We need some specifics on you dilema. For example, taking in the story of the Episode IV only, Darth Vader and Anikan Skywalker are discussed in ways that could only be taken to mean they were two individual characters. The reason for this is simple: Lucas originally created them as two characters and only later on rewriting realized that Darth Vader's back story wasn't interesting to make him a compelling villain... by combining the here to unseen father with the villain, it provided one of the biggest twists in movies ever.
    – hszmv
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 12:12
  • What else do you need? (I'm genuinely asking to make the question better). Backstory, more info in general...? Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 16:27

2 Answers 2


How important is E?

If he plays a very minor role and is so briefly mentioned, then I think that E can possibly be deleted. Will it make an enormous difference? Probably not. I would also suggest for you to change E's character so that he can be more unique and different from Z, if you really don't want to delete him.

Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm assuming that Z is the main character or an important character to the story? If he is important to the story, then I think having E and Z being similar is not a good idea. Why? Because you already have the main character with that personality, if E shares many similar traits with the main character, it's not going to make so much of a difference if you squish him into Z, right?

Personally, I don't think that two scenes will be enough for your character, even if he is briefly mentioned. Two scenes aren't enough for me to remember the character.

I would also agree with Chris Sunami supports Monica to have a smaller cast will be easier for the readers to keep up with.


In general, if you can combine characters, you should --in my opinion. A story with a smaller cast is not only easier for the reader to keep up with, it also allows for more interconnections, deepens the relationships, adds context, and reduces the need for a lot of extra introductory material.

For instance, if Greg accidentally overturns a bowl of cheese dip into Sally's lap, that's an interesting incident. But if Greg is also the same guy that Sally went on a disastrous blind date with four years ago, that's a story. You could easily write them as two separate characters, but when you combine them, it becomes twice as interesting. Plus, the reader already knows who Greg is, so you don't have to spend a lot of time describing him and giving his backstory.

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