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A Cast of Thousands
The ghost of Christmas Past takes him to a Christmas party many years prior. Instead of naming all of the guests, Scrooge reflects upon two or three and how they impacted his life. It doesn't matter if one of the guests went on to save the world. This isn't his/her story.
The primary conflict is Scrooge's bitter view on the world and how it impacts his life. The only characters that need be presented in any detail are those that can affect his beliefs and attitude.
When Scrooge is visited by Christmas Present, he visits Cratchit's family. What if Mrs. Cratchit had an elderly aunt that was very ill and when she dies, they inherit a sizeable estate? That could change the outcome of the story but it takes us too far a field of Scrooge's internal transformation. We're here to see him grow as a person, not to save Tiny Tim. Regardless of how much we may wish to do so.
Christmas Future takes us into the scene where Scrooge's belongings are being pilfered. While the back stories of these thieves may actually be more interesting than Scrooge himself, it wanders too far from the core conflict and would corrupt the story being told.
If you find you have as many characters as your graduating class, then odds are you need to start eliminating. (Unless of course you had an exceptionally small class.)
Take a judicial look at your story and ask yourself the following questions when trying to decide who to keep and who to delete:
1) Does this character further the plot?
2) Does this character significantly contribute to the protagonist/antagonist's character development?
3) If this is a small but vital role, do you need to introduce a new character or would it be possible to have an existing character perform the necessary action?
4) Do you need to spend time on this character or can they just be a walk-on? Someone who comes in, performs an action and then leaves?
Eliminating a character you've put time and effort into creating can be difficult but don't look at it like wasted time, put this character in a folder for consideration in a later story.
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