This past month I
Perfecting any recipe requires time and thought, as well as skill. There must be balance in the core ingredients as well as the spices. I admit that I am not a culinary diva, but I do alright. However, I rarely follow any recipe with exactness. Our mealtimes have included the fair, the bad, and the tasty.
If each character equalled an ingredient in your recipe, then some would play a more central role than others. If those characters aren't carefully crafted to reach the readers, it can be as disastrous as a bite of undercooked chicken. To prepare a bite full of depth, each ingredient must have a purpose and perform well. When casting our stories, each character must have a purpose and open up a new insight into your world. While it is important to have a large enough cast to add variety, you must be sure you aren't just adding filler. JK Rowling did this well. She had a very extensive cast, yet each character felt real, and opened up more of the Potter world.
Another thing, I learned was about writing/cooking for your audience. The panel of judges held four persons with very different ideals in what makes the best bite. The French man appreciated the bites that had a French feel, and others, preferred more exotic tastes. However, there were a few contestants that were able to find combinations that were pleasing across the board. Not everyone is going to relate to the cheerleader, not everyone will relate to a businessman. But you can have aspects of different characters that allow the readers to find themselves within your world. It is then that they are ready to sit down and take in the whole dish.
The key to a great bite or a great story isn't about overloading. It is important however, to make sure you have included enough careful selection to flesh out all aspects of your world. It is through this that you will have a robust and winning story.
Remember characters are not bought at a drive thru. Don't stereotype. If you just pick any character off the menu with out consideration will will wind up with readers regretting their order and forgetting who is who. This is why developing each character individually with backstory is important. However, don't make the mistake of thinking the entire backstory of each character must make it into the story.
Have you mastered the recipe of characters for your WIP?