The Usual Suspects
February 13, 2013
In 1968, my high school football team won eight games and lost one during the regular season. The Mangham Dragons were district 2-B co-champs. An 8 X 10 photo of the team hangs on the wall near my computer.
My wife asked me about the photo one day and I started naming all the players – by number.
Number eight is Oliver Douglas.
Thirty-one is Tommy Pailette.
Twenty-one is Lynn Mercer.
I went on and on. The names came back to me without hesitation.
About two weeks ago, I finished reading and reviewed Dancing Priest, a book by Glenn Young. There were four significant characters.
Several times, I got them so confused, I had to write out a flow chart.
Brother, sister, roommates, friends, twins.
How could I remember dozens of names from forty years ago and couldn’t keep four characters separated now?
In the fall of 2011, I read Michael Crichton’s last book that was finished by Richard Preston. Micro featured a group of seven students. In the opening pages of the book, readers were treated to a list of characters and a brief description. It was a great help. I referred to it often while reading the book.
Now, I’m involved with another book featuring a group of seven characters. It’s my own book, The Presidents Club. While writing it, I’ve referred to my notes many times. An important point my editor/mentor brings up every time we talk is how to avoid confusing my readers.
Authors know more about their characters and stories than the readers.
Authors certainly know background information unavailable to the reader, unless it is revealed in the written word.
If I cannot remember four characters and their relationships, why should my readers be expected to sort out and remember almost a dozen characters? An added complication is that my book is serialized, one chapter each week.
One step we will take soon is to begin presenting two chapters a week rather than one.
Another step is this list of characters with brief descriptions. When The Presidents Club becomes available as an e-book and a trade paperback, this same list will appear in the front near the opening pages.
Cast of main characters in The Presidents Club by FCEtier
John Hixon – ex-FBI agent hired by Thibaut to protect the Presidents Club
Julian Thibaut – billionaire investor/political activist currently promoting an initiative to improve government efficiency and encourage public participation
Gerald Point – chief of Thibaut’s personal security staff
Rosemary Woods – Thibaut’s secretary
Carl “Louie” Chaisson – former pharmacist now part owner/bartender of the Louisville Tavern
The Presidents Club:
Abraham “Abe” Region – retired school teacher now janitor at Holiday Inn Express
Ronald Gold – U.S. Air Force retired, former member special ops
Woodrow “Woody” Risk – retired Lowes manager, domino expert, and math savant
George Ridge – general surgeon paralyzed from waist down, speed reader
Thomas “Tommy” Pritchett – former Baptist minister
Ulysses “Useful” Fishinghawk – retired college professor
Franklin York – retired chiropractor, photographic memory