When I was writing ‘Murder in the School’ I had to create the characters. Each character has a purpose in the story. Some
are the main characters and others have only ‘walk on parts’.
The reader needs to identify with the characters before he/she can sympathise with them or dislike them etc.
Here are some of the characters and their reasons for being there:
Mrs. Smithers – to create mystery
Mr. Singh – to provide romance
Althea Gardner – to provide someone to dislike, hate even.
Alex Simmons– to provide a reason for Althea to be disliked.
Gerald – to provide grounding.
Nick Blunt – a figure of power, at the top of his profession, but ready to take a tumble.
Geoff Padstow – a figure of glamour and power who has been wronged and wants revenge.
Gina Blunt – a figure to be pitied. She is neglected by her husband and so finds love with another, creating a web so
tangled that it has become impossible to unravel.
Miranda – provides a situation where the reader can learn of Gina’s secrets.
Mrs. Catchpole and Mrs. manipulator – both spread gossip and cause events to take unexpected turns.
Mrs. Phillips – provides the reader with details about the other staff.
Marie Padstow – Geoff Padstow’s long suffering wife – knows Gina as a friend.
Martin Tennant – Chief Education Officer – a figure of authority.
‘Murder in the School’ is available in the Kindle Store as a Kindle e-book under my pseudonym Amanda Marigold
‘Justice Will Prevail’ is the follow-up, not available yet.
+++ After working with the characters for a while, the writer gets to know them really well. They pop into his/her mind
every day as new events are created in the writer’s mind.
Dianne Gray wrote an interesting post about her own characters. You can read it here.
Sometimes the characters create themselves.
For example Mrs. A goes into a shop to buy a newspaper. This act is important to the storyline, but to buy the paper she
has to engage with the shopkeeper. This is where the writer’s creative mind comes into play. Maybe it’s a quick exchange.
Mrs. A asks for a newpaper, pays for it, takes it and leaves the shop. Or more interestingly, Mrs. A asks the newsagent for
a newspaper but he/she engages her in conversation, a conversation which could add to the plot of the story. Now the writer
has to decide whether to create a character for the newsagent or to let it pass.
If you are the sort of writer who likes to write a character driven story, then you will most likely be tempted to create
that new character. If on the other hand you are the sort of writer who likes a plot driven story, you may be less tempted
or scenario 3, you may be even more tempted because now you are adding to the plot as well as the characters.
This is where you need to exercise caution. Don’t let your characters run away with your story… keep them in a cupboard and
only let them out when they’re needed, like actors in a play.
Interesting to contemplate, isn’t it!
ps I’m trying to get the formatting right on this post. Please bear with me while I fiddle with it! Thanks.