"You have too many characters, I can't keep track of all the names!"
If this sounds familiar, congratulations! You're a writer, Harry. Welcome to another episode of:
Ellie Raine's School of Wordcraft and Scribery!
Today we will discuss how to keep a level head while writing a large amount of characters in an Epic Fantasy series.
As any connoisseur of epics will tell you, the hero(ine)'s party can be packed with characters--and even the parties without them can get a bit on the crowded side. If you're writing epic fantasy, especially as a series, then you may have been overwhelmed with your rapidly increasing characters as the story progressed. Or maybe you haven't because you're a God among epic writers, and if so, I bow to your divine prowess!
But for the rest of us humble epic-scribes, it probably goes something like this:
Book 1 wasn't all that bad.
You set up the world, introduced the main characters and maybe a few secondary characters, touched on the magic system and general plot... no problem. You might have had some bumps and serious edits to make along the way (did I spell that character's name three different ways?) but overall, it was a herd you could coral like a capable writer, if you did say so yourself.
Book 2 was a new hill to climb.
Not only did you have to recap what happened in the first book (unless you decided to opt out of a recap) but you had new characters to introduce. A new villain, a new comrade, that random peddler harassing your protagonist and ended up being a new addition to the party--okay, now you've got a big bundle of characters to sort through. But it's nothing you can't handle. It's just a larger party to host than your last shindig.
Book 3... wait...
Recap the second book... and the first... both parties from the last books, another 5-20 characters tossed in... er... *Re-reads the first book* Wait, where in Death has that minor character been? Did he disappear in the last book? Crap, is there anyone else I forgot existed??
Book 4 *sobs*
And so on.
So, how do you keep your ears dry whilst drowning in the sea of characters? Organization. Make plans, maps, charts, group your characters according to type, class, nationality, ANYTHING.
Everyone has their own method of organization, so make your notes the way they'll be most effective for you. White board? Sticky notes? Phone app? Good ol' fashion notepad? The sky's the limit, so take your pick. It'll be fun**! (**Maybe.)
My personal method is to make several different charts: Group, class, magic type, location, allegiance, etc.