Main characters VS. Secondary characters'¦



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  • Main characters VS. Secondary characters'¦

    How many of each is too many?
    There are four MAIN (Brothers)
    then there is:
    dead father
    dead mother
    father's secret girlfriend
    their daughter
    girlfriend's oldest daughter
    two of the brother's wives
    ranch hand
    two kids
    all of which provide something important to the story...
    But I am wondering if it's too much? (And if so, how in the hell do you decide who to kill off?)

  • #2
    You must remember one thing, secondary characters help move the story along. Each have their oun purpose. As long as your secondary characters are used for that purpose then you are sitting well. If on the other hand, you find that your main characters seem to be taking main stage most of the time, then you have a problem. Only you can evulate as you write.


    • #3
      Why do you ask?

      Your cast list doesn't look too large, but it depends on the story. Some stories will work with half that many, and others would be perfect with 10 times that many.

      Are you asking because your story isn't working? Are you looking for reasons to keep working on it? Or is it just a matter of being done, and sweating the small stuff?


      • #4
        Re: Why do you ask?


        I haven't read your work. But your logline is the one about the feuding brothers on the ranch, right?

        I thought it was only two brothers the whole time.

        And here's the thing you're gonna hate...I think you should kill off one of the brothers. I read a DD'ers screenplay recently where four women shared the spotlight, and it was too many to keep track of. The script was funny and all, but it was mind boggling to keep them straight in my head.

        Plus, "three" creates better dramatic tension, as alliances can shift and upset the balance in a more powerful way.

        Chances are, there are two bro's in your script who share similarities, or who are not quite as vibrant as your favorite two. Those two brothers should be combined into one.

        IMHO, as always. :rollin



        • #5
          Re: Why do you ask?

          Quick question.

          I don't know what the difference between main characters and secondary characters....or, more importantly, how secondary are secondary characters.

          Let's use Good Will Hunting as an example.

          In my opinion, main characters are:

          Will Hunting
          Sean Maguire (Robin Williams)

          secondary characters are:
          Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, that MIT professor.

          and then the rest of the characters have no significant roles. Yes, they add to the plot and move the story along but their actual characterization doesn't seem that important.

          Hey, in your definition, would Affleck, Driver, etc. be main characters or secondary characters?

          Also, try to limit the dialogue between the dead father and dead mother.


          • #6
            Re: Why do you ask?


            It doesn't seem like an overly large cast to me, again as many have said above, depending on the story.

            One thing I was taught though, was if two characters have the same purpose in the story, then combine them into one. In other words, if there's no real distinction between two minor characters and how they effect/drive the story, then rather make them a single character.

            Make sense?


            • #7
              Ewww, Gross

              The idea of combining two of the brothers is not a bad one... but it instantly brought to mind "The absorbed twin" thing, where they have tumors with hair and teeth in them... :lol
              It would alleviate some of my anxiety that there are too many characters...*sigh*... back to the re-write.


              • #8
                Re: Why do you ask?

                You shouldn't suggest killing off characters without reading the script ...

                maybe four brother work

                Look at Hannah and Her Sisters

                There were 3 sisters and Woody Allens character.

                That movie got tons of nominations and won several Oscars.

                My point is ... my point is ... I'm bias ... my script has five characters who pretty much get equal billing.