One of my favorite movies is Dan in Real Life. Have you seen it? Because I’ve watched it so many times, I think I’ve pinpointed at least one of my favorite things about this movie: its quirky, ensemble-like cast.
Like any great romance, there is one main hero (or heroine) of the story, in this case—Dan—but several of the other characters breathe heaping doses of life and fun into the movie, giving it an ensemble-like feel.
Dan in Real Life is a movie about a family that reunites each year in Rhode Island to close down their beach house before winter. Dan is a dad and a widower who falls for his brother’s girlfriend … and it’s comic mayhem from then on.
A great way to get to know characters is to watch them interact with others. For example, this movie has a dinner table conversation scene with multiple characters that cracks me up! I can think of a couple of other movies with a similar scene.
Can you think of books like this?
The Mitford series comes to my mind for me. It’s been around for a long time, so maybe you’ve read it? As I got to know the small town of Mitford and its heartwarming, sometimes hilarious, often strange cast of characters, I was hooked. I read the entire 14-book series over about a dozen years.
I think this is why I tend to create quirky, ensemble-like characters in my novels. It’s not always easy. I mean, you can watch a movie and easily see who’s speaking, but scenes in books with multiple characters can be tougher to decipher! Still, I love those scenes—both reading and writing them.
Some of my own novels with ensemble-like casts are A Sea Glass Christmas, Reunion in Saltwater Beach, Sweet Waters, and the first novel I wrote eons ago, Chocolate Beach.
Do you like quirky casts in the books you read? Or do you prefer novels that focus mainly on the hero and/or heroine?
No wrong answers here! This is a romance blog after all, which means the love story is key! Still … I’d love to know your thoughts—and recommendations as well. Please drop them in the comments ⬇
I enjoy reading books that have quirky characters in them. To me, that adds a lot to the story. Of course, you want to be able to tell who the hero/heroine is.
One of my favorite series is Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon. It has seagulls as minor characters that appear in every book, and Casper the sea lion, too. It has the wonderful character of Charley, and I’d definitely be going to his taco truck for fish tacos!! I also like the Chapel Cove series, with books by several different authors, and the quirky ladies that work in the bookstore!
Julie Carobini says
I love the idea of seagulls as reoccurring characters, Casper the sea lion too! How cute. Thank you, Trudy!
Hi Julie! Good Question: Do you like quirky casts in the books you read? Or do you prefer novels that focus mainly on the hero and/or heroine? WELL IT DEPENDS! As a retiree – depends on Michigan weather and how much I am willing to concentrate on a larger cast of characters. DEPENDS on the names of the characters – similar or very unusual names are not always easy to follow. DEPENDS – is the story part of a series, where characters reappear in other stories. Novellas need only a few characters. If the author includes a family tree or a list of characters at the start of the story that often helps. Also DEPENDS on the time period between the book releases. If only one book per year than a smaller cast of characters, if released monthly then maybe a larger cast with repeat characters. Valerie Comer uses a larger cast of characters. Multi series like Chapel Cove and Arcadia Valley had a larger cast of characters. Best wishes.
Julie Carobini says
Thank you, Renate! I agree, it’s important to consider release date if the story is part of a series – especially when you’re invested in the characters!
Bonnie Heringer says
I like both. Quirky characters are fun to watch and read.
Julie Carobini says
I agree, Bonnie!
Erin Stevenson Quint says
I agree, a good supporting cast in a book, TV show, or movie can add a wonderful spark and, as you said so eloquently, “breathe heaping doses of life and fun.” I love to write series, and sometimes when a minor character jumps off the page, I’m like “oh honey, you’re getting your own book…”
I haven’t seen this movie, I will have to look out for it.
I do really enjoy books with a whole cast of quirky characters, it’s great when you get a series and come back to see these same characters and see what happens to them. Obviously the hero and heroine are super important too but I think it makes a story more real to have good supporting characters.
Marina Costa says
Ensemble casts! Thank you!
I did not know that is the English term. I still do not know the equivalent in my own mother tongue.. but yes, I do write groups, lots of characters, whole crews… because I write mostly for teens (but not only) and the groups they belong to are important too…
Debra Pruss says
Quirky casts are the best. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.
focus mainly on the hero and/or heroine