I've decided on six suspects for the murderer in the Mystery subplot of October Knight (well, seven if you include Brandon's dad). For each Suspect, I wrote a little sketch, listing who they are (most are mystical creatures of some sort) and their motive and opportunity to commit the murder. Here's a few (I won't say if one of these is the murderer or not).
Mordroch Kickabutt, Brandon's Dad
Who: Coach of the Knights of the Year. Former October Knight himself. He was accused and executed for the massacre of the twelve Knights, and his soul was imprisoned in a hell dimension.
Motive: The ascendance of Halloween and personal power over all the Gates.
Opportunity: Coach of all the Knights
Lunk Fatfist, Wicked Stepfather
Who: Ogre who married and killed the mom through manslaughter.
Motive: Discovers October Key first, then finds out about other Keys and wants all of them.
Opportunity: Met mom before dad died.
Coach (Lorna) Lynch
Who: The woman who came out of retirement to replace Brandon's dad, Mordroch Kickabutt.
Motive: Wants to be coach again. Supporter of the Chairman of the School Board, Mr. Bozian (another suspect).
Opportunity: Easy access to all Knights.
Who: Clare’s vampire boyfriend and Brandon's rival.
Motive: The ascendance of Halloween.
Opportunity: Very old student at the school, knew many Knights.
In addition to the Suspects, there are a few other characters I need in the story. One is Brandon's romantic interest, Clare Stryker. Others are Brandon's friends, who happen to be a ghost and a Christmas elf, who have both been stranded in the goblin dimension where Brandon lives.
I'm searching for Yoda, so I'm going to share my brainstorming here.
Originally, I wanted Brandon to have a Mentor, a Yoda-figure who will teach him how to use his magic and travel between dimensions. I spent this morning trying to figure out who that would be. It wasn't working, because there was no authority figure who would want to bring Brandon into the human dimension. All the authorities think his father is a mass-murderer. The last thing they want is to encourage the son to follow Dad's footsteps.
So I thought, maybe Brandon has already had a mentor...his mom, who is now dead. He remembers what she taught him, though. He himself is the mentor, or guide, at least, to another character.... Maybe his ghost friend is newly arrived in the goblin dimension, and asks a lot of questions about it that Brandon can answer.
I like that, but it brings up other problems. I was going to have the ghost be Brandon's longtime friend. If he's new, then it means Brandon has been friendless this whole time. Problem? I don't see him as a loner. He's a social, friendly guy, and he likes to be around people. Despite his troubled home and special powers, he wouldn't be friendless.
Ooo, I have an idea. Brandon is a goblin Cinderella, living with his wick stepfather and junkie stepbrothers. At least, that's my starting supposition. Up until now, I've been thinking of Brandon's stepbrothers as jerks who bully and tease him. But what if they and their gang are also Brandon's friends? Up until now, he's run with a rough bunch, because that's better than being alone. It's only now that Brandon is using his magic more and struggling to change his life, that he's pulling away from them...which makes them more vicious than ever.
I like that, but I have to be careful. It might be a more complex web of relationships than I have story-space to demonstrate. The stepbrothers aren't major characters (they aren't Suspects, for instance), and I don't want to change that. So I need to be careful about going off on tangents. Still, maybe I can gesture toward this backstory without going into detail: "We used to do everything together, but now, not so much."
Back to the Mentor, maybe Coach Lynch is Clare's Yoda. So there is a Mentor figure, but it's someone who doesn't trust Brandon at all (and whom he suspects might have murdered and framed his dad). We wouldn't really meet this person until Act II. Brandon has to get to Earth the first time on his own.
It's a little weird, brainstorming on my blog. This may all change around by the time I write the book. And I hope it wasn't boring. I promised to share my process for writing a novel as I worked on it, so that's what I'm trying to do.