1. Snap
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    Snap Member

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    Have you ever seen a character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Snap, Aug 31, 2009.

    Bear with me here. I just came from the fair. When I was there, I saw this guy. He was walking toward me, a young man looking to be in his early to mid-twenties. He had shoulder-length, wavy black hair that was brushed away from his face. He wore all black, but tastefully so, with a button-down, black shirt with silver buttons, long black pants, and a black messenger bag slung over his shoulder. What was really interesting, though, was his gait. He was carrying a long, black umbrella, the kind you see in the movies at funerals with a silver tip (even though there was no hint of rain), and he used this as a cane. Not obviously or awkwardly, almost subconsciously. With every step he took he swung the umbrella up, letting it rest about a foot in front of him, until he passed it and he repeated the process. His gaze was straight ahead, not like those around us (including me) whose eyes wandered, taking in booths and the people around them. Everything about this man bred confidence--that he either didn't think much about what those around him were thinking, or he didn't care.

    My first thought? "I'm gonna use this guy as a character in one of my books." He was absolutely perfect, with the right personality. I could cast him as a love interest, a supporting character, a brother, even a villain.

    So my question to you, have you ever seen someone on the street (or anywhere, really), and decided to use them as a character? Then, did you do it?
     
  2. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Careful. Just because you saw him doesn't mean he's believable.
     
  3. Snap
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    Snap Member

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    Well that's my job, isn't it? To make him believable. If he isn't, I could always tone parts of him down.
     
  4. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, all the time.

    By the way, I love your description of the guy in black. The messenger bag and the umbrella used confidently as a cane are what seal the deal for me that this is an intriguing guy.
     
  5. Snap
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    Why, thank you. :) He really was quite an interesting fellow. I couldn't stop watching him, even after he passed me. I'm sure several other people stared. He was the kind of guy you want to walk up to and talk to just to hear the sound of his voice.
     
  6. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very odd, if he wasn't taking in the booths, what could have his business been to attend the fair?

    Great description, I could feel the goth vibes, haha.

    Stranger than fiction, I could definitely envision this person as a credible character.
     
  7. k.little90
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    k.little90 Active Member

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    Your description was awesome! I totally see what you mean when you say you can use him as anything.... he has so many possibilities!

    Anyway, I use characters that I've met in real life all the time for my stories. Sometimes I'll borrow someone's appearance, and yet other times I will just borrow their personality and stick it in someone else's body.

    In the story I'm writing right now, I actually have my main character meet an older (retired) couple that she only knows for a brief period of time in the story. I based the couple off of one that I met while I was on a cruise last year. They mistakenly sat down at a table that was reserved for my party, but seeing as they were already comfortable, we offered to let them dine with us. We talked with them for a good long while, and had said that if they were ever in our neck of the woods they should look us up, as we found them to be very entertaining. The husband piped up and said that, although they would like to, they probably wouldn't get the chance to, seeing as this was the last "adventure" they would be taking together. He then went on to explain to us that he was dying of cancer and was already passed his "expiration date," all the while buttering and jamming a piece of toast as if he didn't have a care in the world. As he finished explained what kind of cancer he had, he said "I'm ok with dying, because I've already experienced the most amazing thing God has to give." After saying that, he looked over at his wife who smiled with sad eyes at him and squeezed his hand.

    I exchanged contact information with them and kept in touch with them after the cruise ended. The Husband died of his illness this last March, which was almost a year and a half past what the doctors said he would live. My whole group that was on the cruise with me think that he hung on that much longer just for his wife. Amazing... Anyway, I felt like I was an intruder on such an intimate revelation while on that cruise, but ever since I have been caught up with trying to recapture that connection onto paper. It was amazing, and I feel that my MC meeting someone like that could lead to her understanding a very important lesson about life. That and I'm a hopeless romantic :p

    I based another MC in the same story off of one of my Ex's. He was a species all of his own that everyone just seemed to be drawn to like metal to a magnet. I took his devil-may-care personality and stuck it into my MC's body. I must say, I'm very pleased with the results.

    You do need to be careful with using people you know too much in your stories, though. I think that when we are close to someone and we use them in our work, we have an automatic biased opinion/ set opinion of what that person should absolutely be and how they should act. We need to have room in our stories for our characters to grow, and if we put in a character that we "know too well" that is already developed in our mind, we won't get the effect we're shooting for.

    I feel like I'm safe using the couple from the cruise because they were acquaintances, people that I knew for a very short period of time. I left them exactly the way they were in real life in my story because I felt that because I didn't know them that well to begin with, I would still be able to modify their characters with general ease later on in the story if needed. My Ex, on the other hand, I had to be careful about using. Although I liked his personality, I had to change his appearance and some of his mannerisms as I felt like my 'SHE' MC was reflecting too much of my own opinons in her musings about him. If I had left him as I remembered knowing him for all the years of our friendship and dating, his image and personality would be so burned into my brain that it would be hard for me to seperate the two men into two seperate lives. I hope that makes sense... I'm a little tired, so I feel like I'm kind of talking gibberish lol

    Anyway, hope that helped, and I wish you luck!
     
  8. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    I often get my inspiration for supporting character by watching people during lunch hour at our university campus. It's just interesting to see how a distinct flick of the hair or how someone shuffles uncomfortably during a conversation convey different things about the situation or the person. I usually don't go so far as to make a carbon copy of the person but i like to mix up the traits of different people to make a unique character that has always come with mixed results.
     
  9. Snap
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    That's incredible and terrible at the same time. It's amazing, what we as humans can endure, when given hope, and a reason to live.

    I work at a bank, and all the time I get members in the door who have a significant amount of money sitting in their savings account. Often, when this is the case, as their financial advisor, I'll suggest that they invest these funds to earn a higher yield. On more than one occasion, the member is a bit older, and will shrug their shoulders nonchalantly and say, "I'm eighty already. How much longer could I live, eh?" And then they'll go back to reading their pamphlet.

    It's sad. Not only because of what they've said it, but in the way that they say it. They say it casually, as if they've already resigned themselves to the reality, and have simply stopped fighting. They're content to let themselves whither away.
     
  10. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    The trick is seeing the inner person. Motivations, personality, past.

    I prefer to know what a character is thinking and feeling and what they have experienced rather than knowing what they look like.

    But to answer your question, all my characters are amalgams of various people I've known. Interestingly, as I reflect on the novel I've been writing for several years, I can honestly say, I'm not entirely sure what the main hero looks like. I'd say he's an average man, and almost any Hollywood actor could play his part. My book is sparse on physical description.

    There is one physical attribute of one character that I borrowed from a person I remember, mostly because it was so startling to me: a biracial woman with black skin and blue eyes. I once knew a woman who fit that description, and I used it for one of my characters.

    Charlie
     
  11. Forkfoot
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    Hotness.
     
  12. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I was disappointed when I discovered that this story really happened.
    Why, you might ask?

    Because I found him infinitely more interesting, and even reviewed some of your description, after discovering that he is a real person.

    It means that I am becoming jaded with stories. *Sigh*
     

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