I was once (very briefly) involved with a disastrous writing group. Halfway through critiquing my protochapter, the crazy lady who headed the group said, “You know by the time you mention [Third Sister] it’s like one sister too many.” I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that advice. Murder isn’t an option. Making my sisters into composite characters might result in my own murder. And lord knows you can’t leave one out.
My nondisastrous friend S, though, had similar concerns.
S: I’m not sure about all your sisters.
Indy: You’re not sure? Think about how I feel, I have to live with them!
S and Indy laugh. S has only one sister, but she’s a handful.
S: I think you have to introduce them better. I can’t keep track.
Indy: Think about how I feel! [Any good joke is worth telling twice in my humble opinion. This may be why I have no friends.]
S: Just give us a little more of an idea of who they are and where they live, all that stuff.
This is how I found myself searching for my sisters’ names in my manuscript making sure their location and domestic situation (not to mention their obvious beauty, intelligence, and good nature [ahem, Cougar]) are properly represented.
How many sisters is too many sisters?