Now that a little time has gone by since the revision retreat, I've started working on the revisions suggested by my group. One of the comments was that it was initially difficult to keep all the characters straight because so many are introduced at once, so I counted. In my first chapter (which is very short, about one page) I introduced two characters. In the second chapter, I mention nine new names and one character who at this point is known only as the main character's sister's boyfriend. Whoa - ten new characters in one chapter. No wonder they had a hard time keeping everyone straight!
After I took a serious look at the chapter, I saw that five of the names are mentioned in conversation but those characters never come into the story at all. It was pretty easy to eliminate most of those and cut down on some of the confusion. A few others, like the main character's best friend, is called by name in the second chapter but doesn't actually show up until the third chapter. By holding off mentioning her until she actually appears, I was able to cut out one more new name.
Hopefully those first two chapters are a lot less confusing now. Even though I know I have a tendency to throw too many characters at the reader all at once, I still have to really work to cut down on the number. How about you? Are there any mistakes that you fall into repeatedly? Do you have a hard time limiting the number of characters you introduce at one time?