For Tyler James Murtha on his sixteenth birthday

My son has a son he named Ty
That boy is the peach of our eye
As a babe in his high chair
He resembled a Little Bear
So that name ever stuck to the guy

It’s hard to believe he’s sixteen
Seems just yesterday he was a tween
Where life will lead him
What passion will seize him
As of now are not likely foreseen

Ty’s a picture of calm, grace, and poise
And seldom he generates noise
His good looks do no harm
And that smile conveys charm
You might think him just one of the boys

But Tyler will forge his own plan
Making judgments as only he can
So strong and so fleet,
He’s quite an athlete
But mind and heart will reveal the man

The rare opportunity, Ty, you must tame
Fools and suckers overestimate fame
When you fail, be no sap
Each wrong turn mends your map
And never forget whence you came

James A. Murtha, 14 June 2016

How many characters should inhabit your novel?

How many characters should your populate your story?

In a 2015 workshop sponsored by Houston Writers House, local literary luminary Ann Weisgarber warned to not have more than five characters appear in the first three pages of a story (short story, memoir, or novel). We did not take up the related question, what’s the maximum number a novel can support and how much does it depend on the number of words or pages?