In this instalment I’ll talk about the characters for my chemistry-themed story called Steel Pelicans. In my earlier blogs I told about visits to Wollongong and Port Waikato to sort out locations for the story and to get ideas for the plot. Now I have to finalize ideas about who is going to have these adventures.
Before I started, I knew that the three main characters were going to be boys. Two were to be long time friends who are separated because the main character has to move from Oz to NZ. The third is a NZ boy who becomes a new friend with the main character. It is the conflict between old and new friends that will create the tension and climax of the story.
I know that having three boys is going to make the writing tricky. When all three are in a scene the words “he”, “him”, “his” could refer to any one of them. So I’ll have to refer to them by name more than I would want. There is a way to avoid this. I could write the story in the first person – that’s where one of the characters tells the story. Then I can use “I”, “me” and “my” for that character, who would be the main character. But there’s a problem with using the first person: that character has to be in all the scenes. I can’t, for example, have the main character kidnapped and tell of how the others go about finding him. As it’s likely that I may want to have some scenes back in Oz when main character is in NZ, using the first person is not an option.
Another way I can avoid the overuse of names, is to give the characters mannerisms. Let’s say that one of the characters has bad pimples and is always picking at them. Then I can use a phrase such as “Again he picked at his pimples.” and the reader will know immediately who the “he” refers to. So it is important that I know my characters well before I start writing.
Read more about my characters in Part 2.