Start journaling your heart out today. Have your very own Journaling Kit™ shipped to your doorstep...FREE!

E-books Workshops
Free Course
Support Us
Founded April 2000. A Writer's Digest Magazine 101 best Web sites for writers (2001 & 2003)
Writing the Wave: Inspired Rides for Aspiring Writers by Elizabeth Ayres
Learn the Elements of Fiction

Buy a novel by Lucille Bellucci at and receive these .pdf bonuses:

  • 17 Ways to Make Amazon Your River of Gold
  • Make Money with Radio
  • Success Bound
  • Book Promotion: NOT for Sissies
  • Harvey Mackay Rolodex
  • Top 20 Talk Radio Topics
  • Harrison Bonus
  • Million Dollar Rolodex

    E-mail Lucille at lucil95783 AT aol DOT com to claim your bonuses.
  • Write Any Book in 28 Days... Or Less!
    Write Any Book in 28 Days... Or Less! New course reveals fresh secrets. Click here to learn more.

    The Secret Behind Creativity REVEALED! It's all in the brainwaves. Find out here!

    EasyEbookPro Books

    Click here to advertise with us for 2 whole months for only $35!

    Home Columns

    Deciding on the Number of Characters in a Short Story

    In our desire to write a story that is packed with insights emanating from different types of characters representing widely divergent point of views, we end up with so many characters who are either too underexposed or too vague for the readers.

    So how many characters could we put in and develop effectively in our story, without confusing our readers?

    For a short story that would not exceed fifteen (15) pages, at least one major character and a maximum of two should do well. Then you can add at most three (3) minor characters, even as other writers manage without any minor characters at all. It depends on what kind of writing technique you are going to use and how "short" your short story will be. At any rate, you should be careful not to give your minor characters very long speaking parts so as not to sacrifice space for your major characters.

    Controlling minor characters

    Minor characters could be friends, fellow customers in a restaurant, an antagonist's ally or anybody whome the major characters would interact with as you expose them and as the story progresses. But even as you limit the exposure and speaking parts of your minor characters, you should be able to justify their existence and make them a worthy part of your story.

    For instance, if you would write a story about a doctor who has been blaming himself for the loss of his child, you could make him interact with a doctor friend, or maybe his own patients who would like to console him. Your minor characters will exist briefly in your story and may or may not cause a significant impact in the life of your major character. With too many minor characters in a room or at any given part of your story, you may confuse your readers as to who is talking and what his/her relation is to your major character.

    Controlling major characters

    Major characters or protagonists need as much time and space as possible so you won't be confusing your readers with their intentions and choice of actions. If you choose to use your major character's point of view (POV) in expounding your story, you would help yourself if you won't mix in too many POVs in a limited space. If you do well with one POV, then do so.

    If you challenge yourself and put in more major characters than you can handle, you risk losing your readers or you can also expect them to get confused with your story. So to be able to expose your characters effectively, consider their number and length of lines in a given scene.

    All characters present

    When you'll have a scene where everyone is going to be present for a confrontation, discussion, celebration or whatever kind of gathering, you will greatly please your readers if your characters can give a confusion-free, strong, engaging and catchy exchange of dialogues. If you can make this work, you can be sure you've successfully given your readers a story that's definitely worth their time.

    Copyright © 2003 Arlene M. Paredes

    Arlene M. Paredes writes short stories, features and essays. Her first nonfiction book will be released this year. She maintains an online journal as a form of writing exercise. You may contact her at

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between

    Journaling Kit - Four Journaling Books to help you put your life and memories on paper


    The Web
    This Site

    Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    Creative Nurturing of the Writer Within

    6 Approaches to Journaling

    21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Muse

    Imagery in Writing


    Children's Writing
    Freelance Writing
    Science Fiction & Fantasy
    Technical Writing


    The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publishers Won't by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

    Home | Articles | Columns | Workshops | E-books | Free Course | Quotes | E-zines | Top Fives | Support Us
    © Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ & The e-Writer's Place.
    Materials appearing in this Web site are owned and copyrighted by their respective authors and/or writers. Please read our Privacy Policy and TOS. No part of this website may be reproduced without consent from its owner. Original site design by Shery Russ. Hosting & maintenance by
    WriteSparks! Lite free software for writers
    Our sister sites: | | | | | | | | Writers Web Designs | | Aspiring Authors | Books | | | | | |