(so what's update #6 doing here after update #7? I ska-rooed up, dat's wot hoppen...)
Now to give them names and faces, histories and descriptions.
Creating characters is part art, part science, part inspiration.
When I was growing up, I read a lot of stories in Boy's Life, the Boy Scout magazine. Many of them were about plucky Boy Scouts finding themselves in challenging situations where as luck would have it, their merit badge skills and knowledge came through to save the day.
I must've read dozens of these stories, and I can't remember a one: They all blend together in a blur of resolute young lads who never had an ignoble thought or went to the bathroom.
If my characters were going to be memorable, the first thing I needed to do was to kill off all the good girls.
Nobody likes a goody-two-shoes (me, especially) and by making my girls the losers,
the problem cases
I ratchet up the stakes.
Logically there would be a supervising adult with them, one of the nuns, but my story couldn't use a real authority figure, so I came up with Sister Agnes, a young novitiate who was an upperclassman when the other girls were freshmen.
She, too, had been a problem case and the other girls remember this and have a hard time taking her seriously.
A hard, hard time.
There's no one way of creating a story, you don't always start at one point and build out from there. Once I had my basic idea and knew what type of characters I would be using, the next step was plotting the story out.
This story was going to be more picaresque than something with a more linear plot. There were any number of things that could happen to the girls, so I drew up a list of all eventualities.
Soon they began organizing themselves: These things could only happen while drifting at sea, these would be items of immediate concern once they found land, these were natural perils, these were man-made.
And each idea had the potential for spinoff ideas: The sister demands decorum from the girls, but it's a desert island, how do you balance propriety with practicality?
 Wow! What are the odds of that!
 Though they could, of course, dig a perfect field latrine and rig a rustic shower out of two saplings and an old bucket.
 A mystery, for example, where each clue leads to the next.
(to be continued)