This is a compilation of a few different newbs on writers.net. A lot of times you'll get these people who are just starting out and start pestering the group with questions about every little thing. "What POV should I use?" "How many characters should I have?" "Should I write it in English?"
The best answer for people like that is to borrow Nike's slogan: Just Do It! Just write the fucking book and worry about the rest of it later. Don't ask the world's permission to write your novel. Go ahead and do it.
In a way the Internet is a bad thing when it comes to this. Because now would-be authors can procrastinate so easily. Not just with "research" but learning about the "the process" and all that. When really the best way to learn is to do it. Like most everything in life, first-hand knowledge, learning from your mistakes, is far better than studying a book or pestering random people.
I wrote what you could probably consider my first "novel" in seventh grade. I was only 12 or 13 and I'm sure the writing was terrible. The story was largely a rip-off of Red Dawn, only in my hometown. The main character was...me! (Because I'm a huge narcissist.) It was definitely fiction as I was in the National Guard and had a son. If I had a copy today (and I have no idea where one might be except perhaps an ancient floppy disk) it'd probably be pretty embarrassing.
Big whoop. I was just a dumb kid. And you know what? It was fun and I probably learned a few things along the way.
Lawrence Block pretty much echoes this in Writing the Novel. Very few authors hit it out of the park their first time around. Even all the successful debut novels aren't necessarily that author's first novel; he or she probably has one in "the drawer" somewhere.
Honestly, don't worry about fucking up your first time around. How many characters should you have? However many you want. Just go and have fun and then probably delete the file. As Gretzky said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.