Inspired by John Truby's The Anatomy of Story (such a good craft book), last year I created a "wish list" of everything I'm passionately interested in: characters, plots, settings, genres, tropes, etc. For instance, ever since I discovered the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land, I've been hooked on pirates. For some reason almost all of my novels involve class distinctions. And I love rebellion. The idea behind the wish list was to use it to develop story ideas, but to also test the staying-power of the ideas I come up with. For example, a pirate who rebels from his ship to court a wealthy landowner's daughter? SOLD!
Ensemble casts suit TV, as the viewer can return each week for another episode, and a series can last for years. But is it possible to create that ensemble cast feeling in a book? Harry Potter comes close, as does one of my favorites from 2012, Michelle Cooper's Montmaray series. Of course, Charles Dickens was the master of the ensemble cast. Though many Victorian classics have an omniscient narrator with numerous characters.
But I'm struggling to come up with more modern examples, especially within children's literature (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? The Babysitters Club?). It's harder to do ensemble casts in the finite realms of a book, especially with the prevailing reliance on first person narrators. Maybe, as my wish list suggests, I need to write my own.
Do you find yourself sucked into ensemble stories too? What are some of your favorites? Can you think of any modern examples?