Twice in writing the final book of the Éire’s Viking trilogy, currently titled Éire’s Devil King, I have added new characters that I wasn’t planning on having.
Twice, I’ve had to go back and cut these poor fictional souls from their brief existence. The Northman who rescued one of my protagonists? Poof. The daughters of this same protagonist who were only mentioned to flesh out a dying character’s characterization? Gone in a “Highlight All” and the click of the Delete key.
Because really? Historical fiction is complicated enough without adding walk-ons who serve little purpose. Their chapters have been pared down, sharpened, and I think are even more effective, now. The protagonist is stronger and more sympathetic now that they’re gone.
At least, I think so.
The art of storytelling is to enthrall, not confuse (unless you’re writing a mystery, maybe). And when you’ve confused yourself? Chances are your readers will not be following any better. So keep it simple.