I suppose the answer is obvious. Write book 13.
But! I thought it would be fun, this Christmas month, to give you all a little extra insight into what I do when I start a story. This week, it's all about...
How do we make characters? Well, we've been over that before. But today, I'm not just going to tell you. I'm going to show you.
See, that's what we're doing this month. I'm going to show you three of my characters, describe some entities that will be necessary for the story (such as settings, background "characters", etc), and then show you three simple plot points and how they might play out. At the end of the month, I'll then post a short story based on everything we've discussed this month.
That short story, by the way, will be submitted to Mavguard Magazine. Check them out if you haven't already — they're accepting submissions through the end of the year.
To give you some background, I'll be working off characters I've written with before. They're in a series that takes place on Earth and in our own solar system, plus a bit beyond. It's a futuristic setting, but I have yet to set a specific date. I don't like dates. They spoil the fun.
But let's get started on our first character!
- Name, Occupation, Role in Story
Those are the three things you'll need to start out, the three things that will define the rest of your character. Now, like I said, I'm basing this off an existing character (because the short story I'm using for this example centers around her). But for me it's a little different, because the short story will be taking place before the events I've already written.
- Kaylen Stevens, newly appointed Specialist aboard Spacecraft Apollo, Main Protagonist
Now we know who we're working with. But what does she look like?
- Light brown hair, cut short to avoid as many haircuts as possible
- Plain brown eyes, nothing special about them
- Cute, slightly crooked smile, imperfect teeth
- Round face
- Caucasian skin tone, closer to olive than "pure white"
- Physically fit appearance, as much as possible with recent lack of gravity
- Average height for a woman, around 5'7"
- Always wears "flightsuit": a fire retardant spacesuit worn by everyone currently working for ES (Earth-Space, a NASA-like operation that involves everyone on Earth, not just the US)
- Wears her wedding band on thin chain necklace, only takes it off to sleep
Those are pretty much the basics, wouldn't you say?
But then, there's a lot more we'll need to know about her. For instance, what does she like? What doesn't she like? What does she act like? How does she feel about living in space?
Let's see how many of those questions we can answer.
- She's wanted to live in space since she was a child. It's all she remembers wanting to do, and now that she's finally there it's like a dream.
- She left her husband of eight months behind on the planet, while she's been shipped out for a ten year tour aboard ISS7, the newest of the International Space Stations, orbiting Neptune. Her new assignment is to the Apollo, working under Captain Cornelius Madhran. She's been on assignment now for a little over two years.
- She had top marks out of any student ever when it came to flight and landing of small vessels (like the Apollo), even in storm conditions like that of Mars landings, but she doesn't consider herself to be anything special. She feels lucky to even have the opportunity to work with ES at all, after growing up in a poor family.
- She's one of the few people who actually likes freeze-dried food, so long missions aren't a problem for her. She thinks it's fun to not really know what she's eating, and to try new things.
- Being that this is a new assignment for her, she keeps her head down as much as possible. People already know her as the girl who got top marks in her classes, but she doesn't want to be treated differently from anyone else.
- She doesn't like having to shower in front of other people, but she's getting used to it over time, what with the cramped nature of the space stations. Showering fast isn't an issue, which is good since they aren't allowed much water use.
- She gets annoyed by racism issues that still come up in Earth-Space, and she wishes there was something she could do to prevent it, but she doesn't know how.
- She's afraid. She's deeply afraid that she'll get sent home, which she doesn't want to do. If she gets sent home, she's afraid her husband will leave her. If she doesn't go home, she doubts that he'll stay faithful. She's afraid that she won't live up to expectations, that she'll be burden, and that she'll make her ship an easy target for the enemy. No matter what she does to calm her emotions, it all boils down to the fact that she's always afraid, and she doesn't know how to make that go away.
You'll notice how I made her a good person. She seems nice, doesn't she? Maybe she's a little insecure, but that's fairly normal in new recruits, I would think. But then she has to have a flaw. Everyone has a flaw, and frequently they come out when we describe their personality.
Kaylen is deeply and purely fearful. That's her flaw. It may not seem like much now, but it comes to mean something later on. Trust me, I've had characters with this flaw before.
But there you have it. That right there is the basis of a protagonist. Name, description, detail. That's all there is to it.
Next time, the antagonist!
By the way, everything here is officially Copyrighted by RAD Writing, who owns the rights to the novel series from whence this short story came.