Multiple relationship throughlines for multiple impact characters

by Zipporiah
(Raleigh, NC)

Hi Glen! I wanted to start off by thanking you for this website, it's helped me so much already with planning out my novel! I just wanted to ask: if I have multiple impact characters in my story, do I then need multiple relationship throughlines relating each of them to the main character?

In dramatica, it says that the impact character can be represented by a group as long as their opinions all coincide with each other and have the same amount of impact on the MC. My story centers around a group of four friends who are searching for a friend who went missing. My main character/protagonist is the most emotionally invested, which causes her to be impulsive so the other three typically try to slow her down and get her to think. The three ICs in my story all try to dissuade her (although for different reasons) but to no avail since she does not change her behavior by the end.

With that being said, I want to show how their views of her change because of her stubbornness, but is making 3 relationship throughlines too much for my story? I definitely wanted to make two since one of the ICs is her boyfriend and another ends up almost leaving the group, but is the third one necessary so the last IC isn't seen as a minor or important character? Thank you in advance!

Answer: First, you're most welcome.

Second, while it's true that a collective or group of characters can take on a dramatic role, that is usually reserved for groups that are have no
individuality, that are essentially faceless, such as all the soldiers in an army or all the guards in a palace. In such groups, one member can be exchanged for another and it makes very little difference as they all have a common purpose, attitude, etc.

Once you start individualizing characters, it is better to give them each a unique role. Certainly, that sounds like the case with your group of friends.

But don't confuse having a unique opinion with being an impact character. Characters can have different opinions and express different attitudes, but the impact character is the character who demonstrates an approach that forces the main character to doubt themselves.

You might consider asking which of your characters can truly make the main character rethink her approach. That will be the real impact character.

This does not mean that you can't develop all the relationships among this group of friends, or that they can't all argue against the main character. In this kind of road story, the exploration of the relationships may be an important focus.

But you seldom need more than one real impact character. The reason is that the main character's personal crisis, where she must choose whether or not to change, is usually a binary choice -- a fork in the road. One path is represented by the main character, the other by the impact character.

More than one impact character can feel redundant.

(The exception is if an impact character dies or disappears from the story. In such cases, their mantle may be taken up by someone else, such as an heir.)

Best of luck.

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