Introducing Characters

So my web novel which I am writing (found at http://thegrimmerynovel.blogspot.com/ ) has a core cast of six characters (with two other Sixth Ranger-esque charaters which I don't intend to introduce for a while). The first chapters are from the perspective of the 'main character,' if you will, and he unintentionally bumps into another member of the core cast early on.


I intend for those two at least to meet, but I'm at a loss deciding whether to space out the introductions of the other four characters or to just get it out of the way and lump them all together.


There might be a little more mileage out of spacing them out, perhaps having the main character and two or three others meeting and then adding the remaining characters after/with a little more story development.


Then again, having these characters all planned out in my head, their stories and their dynamics within the group, I would have liked to give them all an even footing and introducing them all together. But might that confuse readers?


Any opinions, all opinions, please. Perhaps I'm overthinking this...


You certainly have tough decisions. Probably any approach could succeed if you right it well, but that is the challenge.


In an attempt to be helpful, I'll give my thoughts. I wouldn't rush and lump all the introductions together. No matter how brilliantly written, it probably won't allow each character to set in the minds of readers. Give people a bit of chance to get to know someone (without being draggy of course) and then add another into the mix. Maybe like how a good piece of music adds more instruments as it builds.


Now, you could do a grouping of two characters. For example, they are buddies already and hang out together. They could be introduced at the same time. Two new characters is not overwhelming.


There's also the nice technique of you have almost the full cast together except for one, and the final one gets introduced at a crucial time, which will give impact and make the character memorable.


These are just thoughts of course. Maybe you'll hate them, but I hope they are useful for analyzing your options.


It's tough to keep more than a few characters in my mind as a reader, so the fact that you already have eight means that I'd be overwhelmed no matter when you introduced them. I'd suggest is eliminating a couple so that you don't have to wonder when to introduce them. But if you must have all those characters, the plot comes first. Do whatever is faithful to the plot and the pacing.


I think that if each character is distinct enough it's not that hard to introduce several at a time, then continue to give subtle reminders as to who is who the next few times they're mentioned. It's easier if they are more varied and have a particular trait that captures the reader's imagination (the spice girls got this right, pussycat dolls got it wrong).


Actually I have this similiar problem too with Arcana Magi. It's a good idea to bring them in one at a time, and here's why, I your early you're just establishing the direction your taking your main character, chances are you're going to have your main character or meet somebody that wasn't in your original plans. That may affect the way you bring in the other characters. You may also find yourself introducing a character and you don't like the role or direction your taking that new character. So you are able to make adjustments to the new character without dmaagin what you had written so far.


If you introduce all your characters in one or two chapters, you have to stick with who they are and how they act. You will find yourself five chapters deep saying, hey this character could have done this and this character could have done that, but it's too late. Your readers now know who your characters are and changing mid story will turn them off.


I'll give you an example of what I went through in Arcana Magi. I have four characters who are supposed to be Sentinels, I never intended in the beginning to have the Character Reya Everheart, but there she was unexpectedly in the story. I worked her into the story nicely and thought about my next character to introduce. When I wrote the character in, that character was out of place and slowed the story down, not only that but I needed to start introducing the other Sentinels. So a nice rest and meditation later and I thought of how to make Reya relevant, add the next Sentinel, and introduce the character I originally ommited. But in the process I also shuffled the roles of the three remaining Sentinels I have yet to introduce and what I want to write in my story looks a lot more fluid than what I was originally going to write. Of course it also means going one more chapter without introducing the next Sentinel but that chapter will serve to set up the appearance and maintain the stories pacing.


It's not easy having an ensemble cast in literary writing, but a good balance in the storytelling and keeping the Point of View on the main character, should keep your story from flatlining.


Hope this helps.