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Old 11-14-2015, 06:27 PM   #26
Carnevil9
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I've done the alphabet thing many times (Alan and Amber, Vinnie and Veronica), but I agree it can sound artificial. Since my stories are always at least 50% tongue in cheek, it doesn't seem to do much damage.

Another idea is to use names that already go together in peoples' minds. Fred and Wilma, Archie and Veronica, Edith and Archie, Bob and Emily.
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Old 11-15-2015, 03:23 AM   #27
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It can be challenging to come up with and present unique traits for a lot of different characters, especially if they have a minor roles in a plot. One thing I tried once to reduce the personalities was to make a point out of how similar two of the guys were in their behaviour.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:57 PM   #28
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Look at any TV show that has a lot of characters. Doesn't matter if it's a drama, a sit-com, or a cartoon. The more characters there are, the more important it is that they have very distinct behavioral traits.

This is the main thrust behind the five man band and related tropes.

Learning character names usually comes after you are able to identify them in your head by their key behavioral quirk.

Personally I don't have any faith in myself to be able to pull this off, which is why my stories will always have smaller character rosters.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:40 AM   #29
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Just to complete the loop, here is the piece I was working on.

https://www.literotica.com/s/the-big-4-o

Yes, it's been quite a while, and I've written a few additional works while procrastinating on this one.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:05 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by shivadancer View Post
Just to complete the loop, here is the piece I was working on.

https://www.literotica.com/s/the-big-4-o

Yes, it's been quite a while, and I've written a few additional works while procrastinating on this one.
You're right - it has been a while!

I now work on the principle that when I start getting muddled up between my characters and find myself having to keep notes on each of them, there are too many. If I can't keep track, how can I expect my readers to?
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Old 04-21-2017, 05:16 AM   #31
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When I started posting stories to Lit I had already written the beginning of a linked epic The Silverbridge Chronicles. The first story was The Bridesmaids' Revenge.

I intended to base the story around a Ladies Football (soccer) team The Silver Vixens and their male equivalent team Silverbridge aka The Glossies. That meant a minimum of eleven members in each team and reserves so about 30 people although the women would be the major characters.

I started with major characters in The Bridesmaids' Revenge. I intended to write separate stories for each of the characters which would build them as individuals.

Harold, Lisa, Thomas, and Jane were the start. Candice and George had two of their own; Brigitta now has two; John and Sheila have two short ones but the project grew too large. If all the characters are going to be significant with their own backstory The Silverbridge Chronicles won't be a novel but a multi-novel epic series.

Since then I have been more economical with the number of major characters in each story. I am writing short stories even if they might be several Lit pages long. In a short story too many characters might reduce the impact.

IF I finish The Silverbridge Chronicles or start a similar project THEN I will write at least a chapter featuring each major character. That builds their character and typical reactions in the reader's mind. The interaction between the individuals can drive the plot but they have to be individuals first.

To sum up:

I messed up by having too many possible characters. Now I have fewer but IF I wanted more I'd have to build each one first before getting into the meat of the story BUT I would still try to be economical with the number.

But that might not work for you.
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Old 04-21-2017, 05:42 AM   #32
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The blonde-brunette-redhead trope could work well here.

Some examples are the female castaways on Gilligan's Island - Mrs. Howell (blonde), Mary-Anne (brunette) and Ginger (redhead); the young female characters in the movie Dirty Grandpa of Meredith (blonde), Lenore (brunette) and Shadia (redhead); and the Bundy family in Married With Children with Al and Bud having brown hair, Kelly blonde hair and Peggy red hair.

I use blonde/brunette/redhead in all my stories - in my most recent work 'Leanne the Lusty Lifeguard' we have the characters of Leanne (blonde), Jane (brunette) and Morgan (redhead); while in another of my stories I had male characters of Jason (blonde), Alex (brown hair) and identical twins Liam and Luke (red hair).

Another thing you can do is use memorable differences between characters. In another story I wrote I had a pair of sisters, one of whom was the Caucasian parents' biological daughter, the other adopted. The biological daughter was a petite albino, the adopted daughter a tall African-American girl.
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:33 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by shivadancer View Post
I'm sketching out a story involving 4 couples. Any advice on how to keep that all under control in the readers mind?
[I missed that the OP was in 2015. Think I'll just keep my 4-couples scheme for my own damn self. Grats on getting the story done.]
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:36 AM   #34
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If it matters who is in which couple, I'd go with Alice and Bob, Carol and Dave, Eve and Frank, Gillian and Herbert.

For reasons which will make sense to a very small percentage of your readers, Eve should be an untrustworthy and manipulative liar, typically passive aggressive.
NOBODY here got this reference?
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:23 AM   #35
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NOBODY here got this reference?
I assumed it was an infosec joke?
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:48 AM   #36
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I assumed it was an infosec joke?
Yup. By the way, in that usage, "Mallory" denotes a malicious attacker, someone trying to actively disrupt or intercept communications. I think of that every time I see your "Mallory Heart" reference.
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Old 04-21-2017, 11:12 AM   #37
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Yup. By the way, in that usage, "Mallory" denotes a malicious attacker, someone trying to actively disrupt or intercept communications. I think of that every time I see your "Mallory Heart" reference.
Not my source, but still apt. It's a reference to a Gary Numan lyric that might be about an android trying to pass as human, so it kinda fits with the cryptography theme.
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Old 04-21-2017, 11:27 AM   #38
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All I know is Bob and Eve had something, and Alice tore it away, that bitch. She's the real attacker.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:29 PM   #39
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My memory is shit these days and I would have a heck of a time keeping four couples names in my mind, and try to remember who is with who.
I was reading the MaddAdam trilogy and there are so many characters in it I kept having to look up synopsis online to remind me who was who!


And this is the reason I always use the same names for my protagonist, her partner, best friend, etc...

Getting old sucks.
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Old 04-22-2017, 05:29 AM   #40
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Getting old sucks.
On the other hand, everything you do is exciting, coz you can't remember ever doing it before....
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Old 04-22-2017, 06:11 AM   #41
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It is likely helpful to remind readers of the characters' traits and relationship. E.g. "Mark looked at Ann, but his wife didn't meet his gaze. She was absorbed by the sight of her redhead friend. Kate swayed seductively to the music as she reached for her bra. Eric seemed unsure of what to to do, but nothing indicated that he wanted to stop his girlfriend from going further."
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Old 04-22-2017, 09:24 PM   #42
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On the other hand, everything you do is exciting, coz you can't remember ever doing it before....
OMG YES! LOL!
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:45 AM   #43
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Keeping people straight in the narrative is one thing. Keeping them straight in a group sex scene is another. Sure, you can throw quirks in there, but at some point, people are going to stop being quirky when they're getting down and dirty.

That's where you need a diverse cast. Everybody needs at least one physical characteristic that's unique to them. Hair color and ethnicity are the two easy ones. Body type's another good one. Short and Stocky. Tall and Lanky. Petite. Busty. Voluptuous. Circumcised and not.

It also helps to have other identifiers so you don't get into a repetitious rut. Spouse, lover, co-worker, friend, neighbor, boss, cop, fireman...

Shortened names are another way to stay out of that rut. Try to name your characters in large group scenes something that you can shorten. Val and Valerie. Pete and Peter. Chris and Christopher. Nick and Nicholas. Jan and Janice.

If everyone in the scene is blond haired, blue eyed, and their first name starts with B, there's little you can do that won't make it end up reading like someone dropped a bunch of Barbie dolls into a box full of splooge and shook it up, unless they're over-the-top quirky.
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:34 AM   #44
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Keeping people straight in the narrative is one thing. Keeping them straight in a group sex scene is another.
Not sure that's all true. I think even for group scenarios, it is much more interesting if there are some relationships between the people fucking which shines through in the description of emotions and actions of the cast.
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