“The Word of Wigaldir calls you!”

“Eternal life in Enga’s arms.”

“Fear not, sinners. Lether the Blessed will bring us to salvation!”

Like the mating calls of jungle birds, voices sailed over our heads, clamoring for our attention. Bristling with energy and humid with sweat, a forest of limbs and bodies slowed our passage through the bazaar. My guide, a woman half-hidden under a shawl, kept one hand tightly wrapped around my wrist as she pulled me through the Tangle. Bodies pressed in around us.

“What does any of this have to do with my stories?” I shouted over the din of people and prophets.

A girl with golden coins covering her eyes singled me out in the Tangle, writhing as she spoke,  “Come, and worship at the altar of Satina with me. The sensual tongue-”

My guide pulled me away before the girl could finish.

We threaded through the crowd, shoving our way up the steps carved into the mountain, until the smoke and clamor of the Tangle was beneath us. I saw statues with animal heads and priests in robes that bloomed as they danced, and I saw the people worshiping countless gods.

Tugging at my wrist, my guide directed my attention up the stairs, “Look, Writer. This is how it should be.”

Above us, carved into the mountains, a pair of massive god heads watched over the stairs. Both of the god heads were bald, and their features did little to indicate gender. My guide pointed to the one on the left, the one with mischief in its eyes, “That is Siggi.”

A waterfall poured out of Siggi’s mouth.

She pointed to the god head on the right, the one with steam rushing out of its nose and ears, “That is Gusu. Sometimes, Gusu lets go of fire. Fire from inside mountain.”

“Lets go of fire?”

My guide doubled over and pretended to vomit. I didn’t understand, but I had more important things on my mind.

“How is this supposed to help me get better at writing?”

“Too many gods.”

“What?”

“Too many gods. None of them matter. Siggi and Gusu matter, because they are old, and important, and they are only two.” She held up two of her fingers, wrinkled and tanned. Then, she poked me with both of her fingers, “You, Writer. You have too many gods. Too many names. Not enough character.”

“Look, I know I have seven characters in the first page but-”

“Too many!” She poked me in the ribs, and I winced at the pain.

“They’re really important-”

“Too many!” Another poke.

“Alright, alright! I’ll cut them down. I’ll get rid of one, I’ll merge some of the others.”

“And?” She cocked her fingers back, ready to jab me again.

“And I’ll focus on developing them more. I’ll give them proper introductions. I’ll give them scenes that highlight their unusual traits, while also advancing the plot. I’ll try to avoid confusing my readers.”

She nodded at me, satisfied.

“Good. Only add characters when needed. Just because you like character, does not mean character is needed. You must kill names you do not need, as Gusu kill gods we do not need.”

“Yes, I will. I promise. What’s this about Gusu now?”

Below us, the Tangle shouted and preached and wailed and sang. On the stairs, I felt a rumble under my feet.

My guide tugged my arm again, and we climbed, faster now.

“Gusu lets go of fire soon.”

Thank you for reading! All comments and criticism are encouraged. Remember to like and follow the blog, and if you want something to talk about, here’s a few questions for you:

  • Is there a preferred number of characters? What makes it ‘too many’ or ‘too few’ for you?
  • When was the last time you had to get rid of a character? What made you do it?
  • Is there a time when it’s acceptable to use a bunch of characters? How?

Image courtesy of BenSpark via Flickr Creative Commons.