So many characters!
Question: In my story, my main character is traveling the land on a quest. On the way, in different places, he meets several others (four others to be precise) and ultimately they join him. Thus, I am left trying to write about five characters traveling around together, including the minor characters.
I don't want any of my major characters to be neglected, or underdeveloped, and I don't want them to drag back the plot when they have a conversation. I can't cut them, because they are all relevant in the end.
What can I do to stop the story being bogged down or the characters being underdeveloped?Answer:
I think you have to ask yourself why your characters are there, and not just because of something they contribute in the end.
Your plot should be a series of episodes or events leading, building towards a climax. And your characters should have roles to play in those events.
Take a look at the article on Archetypal Characters...
You don't have to follow the archetypes, but consider how the different character functions might work in your story. A typical protagonist pursues the story goal and considers its importance. A typical villain tries to avoid the goal and get people to reconsider its importance.
But the drama also comes from all the other functions that interact.
For instance, the protagonist or villain might need support or help from another character, or may encounter a character who hinders, tempts, or opposes their efforts. They may have characters who offer other points of view when they are trying to decide what to do next.
Certain events might bring some characters into conflict, others might be opportunities for them to work together. Sometimes characters need each other to get to the next stage, and sometimes they get in each other's way.
Usually it doesn't take long conversations for characters to play an important role in an event. Sometimes they just need to say one sentence or do one simple action that makes all the difference to the outcome.
In the type of story you're writing - which involves a group of people coming together - a typical approach is to have a series of events, each of which results in a new character joining the group. Make these recruitment events interesting and suited to the character you're bringing on board. And give each character a unique way of contributing to the story.
Make their interactions also contribute to the story as a whole.
But above all, don't have a character who is there for no reason, or a conversation that is just there to convey character. Try to make every moment important to the story.