Character Analysis
in
Down to the Needle

Character Analysis Requires Attention

Using character analysis, it is wise to take care in the naming of your characters. No two characters should have similar names. This tends to confuse many readers. Too, you should not name any two characters the same, unless it’s a vital part of the plot and the confusion it creates is integral to the plot. Using my name, suppose you write two characters with the name of Mary. Readers may stop reading to figure out which Mary was doing what in a particular scene.

Compulsive that I am, I take this one step farther. I also try not to start any two characters with the same letter. It would be quite boring to read a story with males characters named Joe, John, Jerry, and Jack. Spice it up! Get creative with names.

 So here are both the initials and names of characters who people my thriller, Down to the Needle, along with their placements in the plot.

  1. AF       ABIGAIL FISHER, Protagonist, heroine
  2. JA        JOE ARNO, Secondary Protagonist, hero
  3. PF        Preston Fisher, Abi’s missing husband
  4. EA       Edith Armstrong, owns "The Beacon,” meals for the homeless
  5. BAF    Becky Ann (Bippy) Fisher, Abi’s abducted daughter
  6. MW     Megan Winnaker, Inmate
  7. VW     Vance Winnaker, Megan’s father
  8. RO       Rae Overland, gang member
  9. QO      Quincy Overland, Rae’s father, Aryan
  10. MG      Margaret Griffin (Lady Griff), homecoming queen, Joe’s former obsessive love
  11. J          June, homeless woman
  12. BT       Bertrand Thorndyke, III, Margaret's husband
  13. V         Velma, Police sketch artist
  14. L          Lindsay, Abigail's store clerk.
  15. D         DeWitt, homeless man who protects June
  16. CB       Chad Britto, Police Lieutenant
  17. SY       Stan Yates, blind man
  18. IY        Hazel Yates, Stan's sister
  19. GS       Dr. Gilda Sayer, Prison Psychistrist
  20. EK       Emery Kenton, Megan’s attorney
  21. JP        Jack Pierce, Fireman Captain
  22. DH      Dara Hines, Aryan girl
  23. S          Sling, Dara's boyfriend
  24. TU       Tess Ulrich, witness to Megan’s crime
  25. JR        Officer John Ryde, hospital guard
  26. DN      Lt. Donald Nater, retired worked Megan’s case
  27. GC       Gary Croner, Arsonist           
  28. T          Twyla, Becky’s former cellmate

Your Story Locations are Characters Too

Treat your story locations or locales as characters too. Yes, use character analysis on them too. You give them personality and ambiance by the way you introduce them into the story and describe them. If you create your own names for towns and places, make them interesting, not just common names. Down to the Needle takes place in a fictitious location on the west coast.

 ***

  1.  SEAPORT - Where story takes place.  Larger town on west coast waterfront, similar to but more industrialized than Cabot Cove in Murder, She Wrote.
  2. PT. MEARE - On the bay in Seaport where Becky used to draw on the pier.
  3. CREIGHTON - Twenty miles inland, smaller artsy town.
  4. TONO FOOTHILLS - Behind Creighton toward mountains, where Joe has a cabin.
  5. RACHTER VALLEY PRISON - Southeast of Creighton, in foothills, where Megan Winnaker is confined on death row.
  6. 0 TO 5 - Kid’s Stuff - Abigail Fisher's children's clothing store for ages 0 to 5 years.
  7. K.I.N. - A charitable group started by Abigail to collect donated children's clothes for "Kids In Need."  Donations made at her store earn customers 10% off new purchases.

 NOTE: Sometimes you need to make notes to yourself about characters to assure your time line is correct, as in what I did with the character Emery:

 Emery got his law degree at age 23 = plus 8 years Winnaker was in prison, makes him 32 years when he enters story. Was intrigued by Winnaker’s case, which began while he was studying for law degree.

Some Character Analysis from Chapter 1

The beginning of Chapter 1 opens in an action scene and introduces Abi and Joe and what they do at crime scenes. Through character analysis, we also learn what kind of people they are by the way they dress. These are only a few of many clues in their character analysis that pop up in the introductory portion of the story. Readers do not need a general run-down of characters’ lives and images all in one paragraph. Describe characters through their actions. To write out a character analysis or descriptions in one whole paragraph will stop the story. The author will then be talking directly to the reader. This is known as author intrusion and should be avoided.

 The Excerpt of Down to the Needle

 A fireman waved an arm to catch a police officer’s attention and then pointed toward the flames. He shouted to be heard over the clamor. “The perp torched himself!”

Angry red and orange flames from the still burning back half of the warehouse licked at the night sky. Glowing yellow embers, blown by April’s night breezes off the nearby ocean, took flight. Fire trucks encircled the building. Firefighters scrambled over strewn equipment. Men wearing Army camouflage uniforms darted about. Two ambulances waited for the injured.

An officer cupped a hand around the side of his mouth and also yelled. “The perp’s inside?”

Abigail Fisher and Joe Arno nudged in closer to hear the conversation between firefighters and the police. The roar and crackling of the fire drowned out most other sounds.

A fireman pointed to the front section of the building where the flames had been doused. “Burned himself into a corner.” He shook his head. “Still got the gas can in his hand.”

The officer took a step toward the building, trying to see. “How soon can we get in there?”

“You aren’t going to ID this one right away. He melted like wax.”

Abi carried some of Joe’s peripheral filming equipment though only to make her look acceptable so she could tag along. Doing this was not new to her. Joe was a part-time stringer for Seaport’s major TV station and could be called out at any hour of the day or night to cover breaking news. Abi stayed on his heels. She would indeed help now that they were there.

The work they did when called out to cover a story was meaningful, if not demanding. Yet, these events paled in comparison to what Abi envisioned should happen for her when the greatest personal predicament in her life would be solved. It was a calamity with effects lasting for decades and was taking a toll on her health. While anticipating a happy and momentous culmination to a personal tragedy, she always helped others when called upon. The hope she held inside never dimmed but seemed detached from her everyday life. Presently, she worried about the reason for the numerous fires. Seaport and neighboring Creighton had an average number of fires greater than most same-sized cities.

Spectators had gathered, held back by police. From where had they all emerged, considering this was a building at the edge of the industrial section of Seaport? The crackling of the fire and rumbling of the building collapsing drowned out most other sounds.

“Look out!” Abi screamed to be heard over the chaos. She gestured frantically as a portion of the front wall began to shift.

“Coming down!” The Fire Captain yelled through a bullhorn as everyone fled.

Two firefighters dashed out of the building just as the outer wall and some roof beams collapsed, propelling a gust of air that sent sparks flying. Choking smoke billowed.

Caught off-guard, Abi and Joe wore dinner clothing when unexpectedly called out from the restaurant to film yet another burning. Abi frantically dusted hot embers off Joe’s jacket and then noticed a couple holes had burned through.

“Say so long to this Ralph Lauren.” She almost smiled. She dusted ash from her silk slacks and knew she would soon be shopping to replace them as well.

 ***

Character Analysis Can Be Fun. You will enjoy character analysis when writing your own stories. You will also enjoy performing an analysis on the stories you read. By scrutinizing these aspects of a story, you find deeper rapport with the characters, You also find you delve deeper into the plot and feel more a part of what you read.

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