At last night’s critique group, I brought a three page scene from my WIP, some 200 pages in. The folks in my group have seen bits from this book many times, but only a couple have read the whole thing. While they liked what I wrote, the biggest complaint was that they couldn’t keep track of all the characters. There were five.
The biggest problem with critique groups is that we are limited to only a few random pages. It can be pretty hard for readers to put it into context. For someone who’s never seen any of my story before, it can be impossible.
My argument is that after 200-some pages, readers know the characters well enough to handle five in one scene. And, I’m writing for kids, who can have an incredible ability to remember minute details of insignificant stuff.
Am I wrong? How many is too many?