I am talking about writing characters that are family or group of friends. This type of writing is more complicated to get right. We see this a lot with ensemble acting, where the writer wants to give all the principal actors equal screen time. The complication is that the viewer/reader needs focus. One, two, or three people should be the focus of your audience.
I chose the above photo for a reason. Notice one band of light is strong and draws your attention first. That’s what you want for the main character or couple in that book.
How to do ensemble writing? I have seen it done in different ways. Here are some tips to start with and possible ways to do it.
- Keep your characters straight. I’m adding a website here that says it wonderfully. K.M. Weiland does a great job of explaining how to manage a large cast of characters. https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/help-readers-keep-your-characters/
- Each main person in the ensemble of characters has their chapter. Some authors name a chapter for the point of view character.
- When you know you are doing a series of books, start strong with the main characters. I’m going to use “The Big Bang Series” as an example. In episode one, Sheldon is interviewing roommates and meets Leonard. Then Penny moves next door. Leonard is immediately attracted, but Sheldon thinks his friend is daydreaming about someone he can’t have. As the series continues in that first year, even with the other friends there, the storyline revolves around Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny.
- In writing a series of books, each principal character or couple has their book. Many authors do this.
- In the next book, the main character becomes a support person. I do this myself in the Vampires in Manhattan series and the Arnhem Knights of New York series.
- Once you choose that character that will be the focal point, the other characters are support players. They move into and out of the main character’s view. The main characters have the storyline in that book.
- Always have together time for all the characters who will become the principal players. Screenwriters and novelists do this with family/friends gathering. They could hang out together after work, have meals together or go out for coffee, come together to worry (a character is in the hospital), gather for a funeral to say goodbye, or join in a celebration such as a wedding, birthday, or graduation. Doing this shows their interaction and personal qualities.
- I recommend watching “The Big Bang Theory” or “Friends.” I also recommend typing ‘The Big Bang Theory episode guide’ into Google. Start with season one. In season two, the other characters take turns as the focus of a storyline. By the last season, you see three storylines per episode. Authors sometimes have a reunion book after several books in a series for this reason.
- If you haven’t done it yet, you want to do this by the end of your first book. To keep characters, backgrounds, and plots straight, create a book series bible. This notebook is your reference when writing the next book in the series. The book series bible helps the authors stay consistent. Lorna Faith does a great job of explaining it. https://www.lornafaith.com/how-to-create-a-series-bible-for-your-fiction/
I know I’ve given you a lot to process. Print out the page if you like, and put it in your Writing Tools binder.
A point of interest: I will be making a book series bible for Lady Fallon’s Dragons since the first book in a series and sharing the process with you. You might want to read the book to match the process in the bible to the characters and parts of the book. Creating a book series bible can help you in writing your series. Hint: I have taught creative writing for over 30 years.
Lady Fallon’s Dragons is in Amazon Kindle and Paperback, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, and now on BAM, and Scribd so far. Please, see links below if interested. Visit https://susanhannifordcrowley.com/lady-fallon’s-dragons for an excerpt.
Lady Fallon’s Dragons is filled with adventure, intrigue, romance but most of all dragons. My contemporary dragon fantasy is for ages 13 to 113. The links are:
Amazon Paperback and Kindle
BAM Paperback (available through their online store)
All the best and to our friends in the USA, Happy 4th of July!
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance and now YA novels too.
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
New Release: Lady Fallon’s Dragons is now available at Kindle and Amazon Print, Nook, Kobo, & Smashwords
The Vampire with a Blanket of Stars, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 3 is now available in Amazon Print and Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Walmart ebooks & Smashwords.Vampire Princess of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 2 available in Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!
Vampire King of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 1 now in Kindle and Print! Walmart Bookstore Online
Vampire in the Basement, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 4 available in Kindle.
Poseidon’s Catch(mythology romance) available in Kindle.
Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room (steampunk romance) available in Kindle.
A Vampire for Christmas, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 3 available in Kindle.
The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 2 available in Kindle and Print and Barnes and Noble Print
When Love Survives, Vampires in Manhattan Book 1 available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, and iBooks (on Apple devices).