QUESTION: In my historical romance, I have a whole castle filled with people. What’s your advice on juggling lots of characters? They are all important, some more than others. But it’s challenging sometimes to include them all.
A romance is about the hero and heroine, NOT the secondary characters, no matter how interesting. If a scene or a character doesn't involve the hero or heroine and their relationship or moves their main plot forward, then that scene or character isn't needed.
I use the Rule of Three: If a scene doesn't contain at least one or two plot points (information or events which move the plot forward), and one or two character points (important main character information) so that you have at least three points total, then it should be tossed, and whatever points included in that scene should be added to another scene.
If you really like a secondary character like the hero's best friend, then you can build him up enough so that readers will want his story for your next novel, but you don't take away from the hero or the story while doing this.
In books other than romances, writers have more of a luxury of allowing other characters on page and in viewpoint. To keep up with these characters, they keep rigorous notes, story flow charts, etc. They also give just enough information to the reader to remind them of who this person is, if he isn't a major player in the story.