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Character Building in Starveyors

I’ve been spending my writing time this week working on the characters for my next novel, Starveyors. In some respects it has gone smoothly, as a few of them are somewhat known already. But finding motivations and making the characters as real as I can before actually writing the novel, has always been very valuable and allowed me to write faster when I do start cranking on the novel.

This novel is going to be more character driven and less about things blowing up. The theme of the story is reconciliation. Many of the characters are either directly involved in stopping the Great War between the Alliance and the Votainion Empire or are reconciling issues created by the war. Some of those issues are personal and some are social in nature. It’s hard to get too specific without giving plot points away. But suffice it to say, many people were affected by the war and they all have issues that need to be resolved.

The challenge for me at this early stage, is to create characters who not only serve the plot, but have lives that were created by events that drive the plot. As an example; the hero and thus central character of the novel is a young woman named Cyril. Cyril is from a planet called Tyrmia. Hey, don’t you have novel called Tyrmia? Yes, and if you read that novel, you will see where Cyril came from. For the rest of you, know that Tyrmia was the planet where Votanions and humans first met.

Cyril is a half-breed between a human and a Votainion. She has a reputation as a peace-maker, having helped her planet become a member of the Alliance and averted a global war in the process. Now she’s pursuing a career as a Starveyor officer on a starship. The peace talks between the Alliance and the Empire have stalled and the lead negotiator has called upon Cyril to help her bring an end to the millennial conflict. Cyril has a natural ability to bring people together. She looks both human and Votainion, so both sides error on the side of trusting her.

Ordinarily, the best diplomat in the Alliance – Ambassador Kelley, would have been able to end the war successfully with a lasting peace, but she can’t quite seal the deal. She brings in Cyril, knowing full well that the young woman could be the trust agent that the two sides need in order to bring a lasting peace. Not just any old character would be able to do this. But someone like Cyril, who bridges the two worlds physically might have the best chance.

Cyril is not the only character in the novel who’s very existence is defined by the war. I have some sentient androids (I call them Silicants) who were created initially by the humans but were given sentience by mysterious silicate rocks from a border moon named Ocherva. These Silicants have evolved into a powerful race of machines that could unlock some of the hidden reasons that the war started in the first place. It’s all very complicated, but these Silicants help Cyril bring the two sides together and they may even discover more things that the humans and the Votainions have in common.

A final, interesting match-up are two Admirals, one from each side of the conflict. They have been trying to kill each other for their whole professional lives and now they must bury their hatred and help end the conflict. Talk about metaphorical examples of how the war has created characters. These two are more obvious examples and offer a great deal of tension to the plot. Will they risk peace by continuing to try and kill each other?

The novel will cycle through these three groups of characters until a resolution is revealed. I should have enough basic materiel in these characters to propel the plot forward and make writing the novel as much fun as reading it will be.

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