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  • Writer's pictureNicole Wilbur

Creating an Ensemble Cast of Characters

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Introducing an Ensemble takeaways
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How do you introduce a new character in your writing? Moreover, how do you introduce a large cast of characters all in the first few scenes of your novel? And especially, if you have an ensemble cast, HOW do you make each character's entrance distinct and memorable?

The best way to answer these questions is to analyze the masters so we'll be analyzing four examples from two TV shows and two books. The shows we'll be looking at are Downton Abbey and Money Heist, while the books are Six of Crows and The Mother Daughter Book Club.

First up is Money Heist. Money Heist introduces its characters as a group, highlighting their collective goals and motivations. This helps to establish the ensemble nature of the show and gives the audience a clear understanding of the main conflict from the start. However, the crew is introduced differently than the "victims", thereby establishing empathy for the victims while making the audience like the crew.

Downton Abbey takes a different approach by introducing each character through their relationships with other characters. For example, we are introduced to the Crawley family through their interactions with the servants, and we learn about their personalities and motivations through these interactions. Another technique Downton Abbey uses is to give each character their own distinct visual and narrative identity. This helps the audience quickly distinguish between characters and remember who they are.

Moving on to the books, let's start with Six of Crows. This novel has a large cast of characters with complex backstories and motivations. To introduce these characters, the author uses a combination of dialogue, internal monologue, and action to reveal each character's personality and goals. By using these techniques, the author is able to effectively introduce the characters and their relationships with one another without overwhelming the reader. Leigh Bardugo also uses the character's introductions to foreshadow and set up expectations for each character's arc in the duology.

The Mother Daughter Book Club also has a large cast of characters, but it introduces them one by one, relying on each girl's chapter to give first impressions, then deeper insight to the other characters.

In summary, introducing a large cast of characters in novels and TV shows can be a challenging task, but it is essential for creating a rich and immersive storytelling experience.

Check out the key takeaways in this PDF!

Introducing an Ensemble takeaways
Download PDF • 5.04MB

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