Blog #17: Should I have 2, 3, 4, or 5 Leads?

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Writing

A story is nothing without Lead Characters, whether they are people, animals, locations, or even things inanimate objects, just as toys or houses. Characters are the heart, soul, and driving force of making a reader want to know more; thus creating a powerful story. Lead Characters are sensually the focal point that interacts and changes the behaviors and actions of the supporting characters. But how many Lead Characters does your story need as the front line? Lets view a few examples:

Groups of 2: Highlander (Film) CONNER MACLEOD & LOBOS AMIREZ, Supernatural (TV) SAM & DEAM, Back To The Future (Film) MARTY MCFLY & DOC EMMETT BROWN, Gone With The Wind (Book) RHETT BUTLER & SCARLETT O’HARA, Harold & Kumar (Film) HAROLD & KUMAR, Men In Black (Film) K & J, Rush Hour (Film) DET. JAMES CARTER & CHIEF INSPECTOR LEI, Double Dragon (Video Game) BILLY & JIMMY

Groups of 3: Star Trek (multiple) KIRK & SPOCK & MCCOY, Harry Potter (multiple) HARRY & RON & HERMIONE,  Ice Age (Film) MANN & DEAGO & SID, The Matrix (Film) NEO & MORPHEUS & TRINITY, Twilight (Film) JACOB & EDWARD & BELLA, Futurama (multiple) PHILIP J FRY & LELA & BENDER

Groups of 4: Final Fantasy (Video Game) IVAN & KANE & MAGE & DOON, Ghostbusters (Film) VANKMAN & SPENGLER & STANTZ & ZEDMORE, Stand By Me (Film) CHRIS & TEDDY & VERN & GORDIE, The Dark Tower (Book series) ROLAND & EDDIE & DETA & JAKE, South Park (multiple) STAN & KYLE & ERIC & KENNY, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV) BUFFY & XANDER & WILLOW & GILES

Groups of 5 or more: Scooby-Doo (TV) SCOOBY & SHAGGY & FRED & VELMA & DAPHANE, Star Wars (multiple) LUKE & LEIA & HAN & R2D2 & CP3O & CHEWIE, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (multiple) JASON & KIMBERLY & ZACK & TRINI & BILLY, Voltron (TV) HUNK & ALLURA & SVEN & LANCE & KEITH & PIDGE, American Pie (Film) FINCH & OZ & JIM & KEVIN & STIFLER

The more Lead Characters a story has, the more obstacles the Leads have to complete their objective to the conclusion to the story. No matter the relationship (family, friends, love interests, comrades, etc.) between the Leads, a story only excels with a conflict, a threat, or a difference of opinion not only amongst the good vs. evil but amongst the Leads. Examples of these are as follows:

Group of 2: Marriage conflict, sibling rivalry, a team, opposites attract, brains & muscle, or but not limited to difference in age.

Group of 3: Size, Intelligence of different fields, a trio of heroes, a love triangle, or but not limited to difference in sex.

Group of 4: a team of heroes with their own individual strength, two pairs of opposites, sibling rivalry as individuals but unite as a unit, a trio of good with the odd man out, or but not limited to four complete individuals with a common purpose.

Group of 5: Typically with a large group of 5 Lead Characters, it is usually a group of individuals who are linked by friendship who all share a common goal and with with each other to solve differences and obstacles. This group tends to have conflicts in their inner circle but as a team effort, they set all differences aside to conquer the goal. With a large group of 5 or more, rarely with more than 5 leads, tends to have more than three adversaries to not only provide the threat and challenge to the Lead Characters but to dissolve their bond to break apart their connection. This tends for series to continue, sagas to unfold, and large casts of unique characters to mix and merge with the entire story, each one having their own chess move in the story.

What does your story need to open the imagination in you: the writer, or the reader? 2 Leads? 5 Leads? How long do you plan to tell your story? 1 book? Several? How strong are your Leads?

If your story is, metaphorically speaking, a human body: Does the body stand-upright with just the bone structure and muscles? Or do you take each body limb into consideration to support the body? (Arms, Legs, Bones, Muscles, Organs, Blood, etc.) Does a plant grow on water and sunlight alone? Or do you think a plant need more to grow, prosper, and open up? (Water, a pottery, nutrients, Sunlight, extra carbon monoxide, etc.)

The decision is up to you, and you alone. Explore your stories potential and options! See your characters and visualize the conflicts and hoops that lye ahead for them. How many Leads does it take to solve a conflict?

Til next time,

Keep on writing!

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