Write Better Fiction: Characters in a Scene – too few/too many?

Today on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover the Characters In A Scene. Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel, so you’re ready to submit it to an editor. Check the bottom of this post for links to previous Write Better Fiction articles.

We’ve discussed using our spreadsheet to balance the number of scenes the protagonist and antagonist are in. But what about other characters? There is a columns for that too.

In the column called characters, list all characters in the scene. This includes characters that don’t have a name. The bartender, the skier, the person on the street, etc. I include animals as characters. The animal may or may not have a name. If you’ve read DESCENT, you know Chica is a character that is a yellow labrador. In BLAZE, a grizzly bear has a scene, but it’s not named. They both get listed in this column.

The character column helps

  • keep track of characters from one scene to another. If a character is in one scene, and the next scene is in the same location, then either the character has to still be there or you must write his/her exit. This column will keep you from having randomly disappearing characters.
  • you assess whether you have too many characters or too few in a scene.
  • you count how many times the protagonist and antagonist appear together.

If you get feedback from beta readers that you have too many characters, this column will help look for places you could cut characters or combine two characters into one.

Your challenge this week is to list all the characters in each scene.  Have you given your protagonist and antagonist a fair amount of time in your novel?

Please me know in the comments below if keeping track of characters in a scene helped you tighten your writing. Did you edit out any characters?

Thanks for reading…


If you’d like to check out DESCENT or BLAZE the links are below:


When Kalin Thompson is promoted to Director of Security at Stone Mountain Resort, she soon becomes entangled in the high-profile murder investigation of an up-and-coming Olympic-caliber skier. There are more suspects with motives than there are gates on the super-G course, and danger mounts with every turn.


Instead of exchanging vows, Kalin Thompson spends her wedding day running from a forest fire near Stone Mountain Resort, and the pregnant friend trapped with her has just gone into labor. Meanwhile, Kalin’s fiancé, Ben Timlin, hangs from the rafters of a burning building, fighting for his life. Can the situation get any hotter?


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