Creating Strong Central Characters - Alex Albury in the thriller, In For The Kill

The third in the series - Creating strong central characters by Pauline Rowson

In a previous blog I wrote about my central character in my marine mystery crime series, Inspector Andy Horton and about my reluctant hero Adam Greene in In Cold Daylight.  Here I focus on the main character in my thriller novel, In For The Kill, Alex Albury.

A strong central character is someone the reader can have empathy with, someone they can sometimes get angry and frustrated with. Someone they can get close to and believe in. As one reader of In For The Kill put it, 'I loved Alex Albury. He didn't always do what I wanted him to do but then that's what makes a good novel.'

The author needs to know what has shaped the main character; his background, family, education and experiences. Alex's life had been easy, he had a comfortable upbringing, a doting mother, a wife, two sons, a beautiful house on the River Hamble and a successful business. He had a reputation, love and money until one day the police arrested him for something he didn't do and his life crumbles before him. He loses everything, even, as he puts it in the Prologue of In For the Kill, his confidence - that is what is behind him. So what lies ahead of him?

Well, main characters need to take control, they should not give in under pressure and should take an active part in solving their own problems. They can have faults but they change and grow throughout the novel. They make mistakes and learn from it. Newly released from prison after serving three and a half years for a crime he didn't commit - fraud and embezzlement - Alex takes control by setting out on a course of revenge to find the man who framed him and stole everything from him. All he knows is a name and that's phoney. His journey is no simple one and soon he finds himself suspected of murder and involved with an evil ex-con.

He's hindered by his fear of being re-arrested and hampered by his reluctance to use any form of modern technology even a mobile device, which can be traced and tampered with. No one believed Alex was innocent. If it's on a computer it must be true! And having had his identity stolen once he's not going to risk it a second time. He's set on a course for revenge and destruction and doesn't care how he achieves it. Will Alex kill? Is he capable of it? What will push him to the edge and over?

And where will the main character be at the end of the journey? What will he have learnt about himself? Faced with the ultimate choice, kill or be killed what will Alex do? Will he kill? Will he get his revenge?

Answering all these questions and more about your central character makes the author understand what drives and motivates him and so shapes the novel. It's great fun and I love it.