The Planet Autumn series may have begun as a way to teach some basic scientific concepts, but it has become a story of the people on the mission. That makes finding my characters very important.
The story premise is with an exploratory mission on another planet slated for terraforming and occupancy by humans in a couple of years. So the cast of characters includes all the members of the exploratory team, all 117 of them.
Obviously 117 characters is far too many to work with regularly. Many of them may hardly be mentioned in the planned six books.
How many of these are important characters? In “Prelude to Autumn” there are two main characters: Fred and Victoria. In “Mounzz of Autumn” the mission has split into four Stations. Each Station has a main character.
Fred is at East Station. Who is Fred? His mother died recently as a result of a tragedy on a previous mission. He and his father are adjusting to being on their own. As a new teenager he is facing those changes. He is honest, scientifically gifted, curious, loyal, caring and lonely. Being talked down to by adults is a pet peeve.
Adrian is at Central Station. As the Team Leader’s son, he occasionally uses it as clout when he wants something. He tends to be laid back, athletic, friendly, seemingly casual, skeptical.
Abdul at South Station is caught in the middle. He is outgoing, but has no friends as his father takes them on missions as often as possible. His parents are secretive, afraid and want their son to do nothing to attract attention to them. Joining the mounzz project with Fred and the others gives him a chance to be accepted and welcomed by others. It also brings him into conflict with his parents. It makes him feel important.
Alexandra is at West Station. She is nosy, brave, loyal, a good student. She and her best friend Stardust are willing to risk everything to defend a cause they feel is right.
There are many minor characters who play important roles and need fleshing out as well. In finding my characters I use these ideas to see them. In writing the story these basic traits expand taking the characters to where they develop their own voices and behave according to their characters.
This is the goal of finding my characters: to have them feel real enough to speak and behave as themselves, not clones of me.
“Dora’s Story” had even more characters in my background notes as I had to know every goat owner and goat entered in every class in all of the goat shows.