Having Multiple characters.

by Ryneh Caballero
(Ormoc City, Philippines)

Question: I am writing a Sci-fi story with a military group injected with a specific serum that gives them certain abilities in fighting aliens. I have ten military groups in total and ten leaders.

If eight of these characters are to arrive at a certain venue, should I introduce them all at once? And if I do, what certain information should i only write?

Answer: I think it depends on what narrative mode you are using.

If you are writing from the perspective of one character in particular (either in first person or third person limited), then you only describe what that character perceives, and generally in the order they perceive it. So you would ask yourself what your character perceives when they arrive at the meeting. Who do they see first? How does that character look to them? Who do they meet next? Perhaps you describe the characters one by one as your main character slowly takes in the room.

Also, you have to consider what your main character is going to notice about the other people. Different people notice different things, so what your character notices says something about their priorities and interests.

On the other hand, if you are using an omniscient narrator, you have a little more freedom to present the information you, as the storyteller, think the reader needs to know about each character. What do you think are the important and telling details of each character? Again, you have to be selective. Don't do an infodump. A few telling and salient details about each character are better than a lengthy description full of irrelevant facts.

In particular, avoid describing what the characters have in common, unless it matters. (E.g. no need to tell us that each man has short hair, unless there's strange reason what that is so.) Focus on what sets them apart, because that will help the reader keep the characters straight.

Best of luck.

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