I recently viewed a great infographic: “15 books with more characters than you can keep track of” that was about books that portray a lot of characters (in relation to the number of pages each book has).
This made me think that we can classify books according to the number of characters they portray (always in relation to how long each book is). The same goes for movies and TV series.
Well, the number of characters is indeed an important attribute of a book/movie/TV series, just as its length, its genre, etc.
There are stories that intertwine their characters in a clever way and so can create a “rich” plot. There are other stories that keep introducing more characters haphazardly, in order to just reach the necessary length, without advancing the plot.
So, having a lot of characters does not mean that a story will be a good one. You can have a good story with a few characters or with a lot of characters. And you can have a bad story with a few characters or with a lot of characters.
The point of my blog post is now going to be revealed. I am here to state that it generally shows more skill if you can create a good story with a few characters (as opposed to a lot of characters).
To create a good story using fewer characters generally requires more skill from the author.
If the author uses a lot of characters, then it is easier to create a rich plot and intertwined relations. It is more difficult to do that with fewer characters.
So, between two stories that more or less share the same other attributes, I would consider that the story with the fewer characters to be better.
A story with fewer characters does not overwhelm the reader’s mind with people details. Instead it lets the reader focus more on the plot and on the meaning of the story.