1. Kristen
    Offline

    Kristen New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia

    Where do characters come from?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kristen, Jan 22, 2011.

    Are your characters inspired by people you know or do they just materialize in your mind?
    I find that my characters are initially drawn from people I know or have heard about and then they grow.
     
  2. Youniquee
    Offline

    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    733
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Under your bed.
    Sometimes they materialize randomly, my main characters are usually based off people I know.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    My characters are mostly based off archetypes that can come from anywhere. Real life, books, TV, anywhere where characters show up, really. Once I have the basic idea of them from the archetype I keep writing them until they turn into something new that I like.
     
  4. Naiyn
    Offline

    Naiyn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Mine start out looking like a certain celebrity or someone I know, but I never know much about their personality-- just vague ideas and such-- until I actual start writing them. When the writing commences, they become a blend of many different traits and quarks and habits until they really don't resemble anyone I've ever heard of or known.
     
  5. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Mine come in several different ways.

    *I have the ones that I make up myself, usually starting with physical description and a stereotype and the story shapes them.

    *I have the ones that I make up myself similar to the above but they evolve and change drastically for example Prince Jonathan little weedy dark haired guy became Prince Angus, blonde, 6ft 10 and build like a behemoth. Paul Jackson nervous palace facilities manager, who sniffed a lot, somehow became Nathaniel Smith, head of the Secret Service, half sparrow, and boyfriend to the Crown Prince.

    *Then I have Socrates and Iris Harlow (Gran) who arrive fully formed, fully clothed in my head, I don't feel like I created them. They come complete with name.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    both...
     
  7. Midnight_Adventurer
    Offline

    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    It all depends on the world and circumstances I'm putting my characters in. In two separate stories I have a strong, almost harsh female MC and in the other I have a softer and slightly weak female MC. They reflect the world around them, and then I build their appearance and name around that.
     
  8. Souliepantaloons
    Offline

    Souliepantaloons New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Allentown, PA
    I think I seem to notices a feature I like and just build...suddenly it doesn't resemble the original base coat anymore.

    I once had a character roughly based on Carson Kressley...well...he's still not-straight...however >> he's named something totally different, is 7ft tall, very masculine and...he's a redhead. <.< With green eyes.

    and a voice that's darn close to a bass.
     
  9. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    They materialise in my mind, or rather grow from a small seed, like a name, an idea, a scene or an image. Once the seed is planted, it's almost like there can only be one "right" personality for the character.
     
  10. Slammoth
    Offline

    Slammoth Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bristol, the UK.
    For me, the roots of a character lie in the plot. I figure out what I need to convey the theme, mood and message that I'm looking for, and create a baseline accordingly. After that, the writing process takes over and surprises happen. As events unfold, my characters tend to develop traits and quirks, which shape the plot - I like that little circular pattern.
     
  11. Pages of Romance
    Offline

    Pages of Romance New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Joliet, Il
    Mine come from out of nowhere. When I got to the end of the first book I wrote, I started getting creeped out about how these characters came to be. The story, their voices. It's like I was watching someone elses words appear on the screen before me. I have no clue who they are when I start. They show me as I go.
     
  12. Allegro Van Kiddo
    Offline

    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    20
    Mine are like a cake with all these different ingredients that end up nothing like themselves once they leave the oven.
     
  13. D.T.Roberts
    Offline

    D.T.Roberts Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    I outline my plot before I develope any characters. This helps me determine what type of characters I need. I made a template from which to build them. It's designed as an interview that asks questions about everything from their most cherrished memory as a child to Medical history. Then I ask "Who are you?" I make the characters answer all the questins in their own voice.

    Here is an example of one of the characters in my current WIP.

    Character interview. Janet Freeman

    Characters must answer all questions in their own voice.
    General information: age/Marital status/# children/job


    Age 36 Single/never married no children


    1. Where did you grow up? Just outside of Akron Ohio

    2. What is your most special childhood memory? There weren’t many good times. There was one time, a couple from a local church took my sister and I shopping for new school clothes. That’s about the only fond memory I have.

    3. Tell me about your childhood. I don’t think you really want to hear about that. Really? Okay, umm… My father used to force me to have sex, not only with him, but his poker buddies as well. It started when I was about eight or nine. It was just touching at first but then it moved to oral. By the time I was eleven, I’d been raped by at least a dozen different men, my dad’s friends. When I tried to tell my mother, she accused me of making it up. I remember one time, I was listening from the hall outside my bedroom. My father was playing poker and was out of money to bet.. He offered me as a bet. Can you imagine? Offer a night with your eleven year old daughter, just to stay in a ****ing poker game?

    4. Where did you go to school/college? I got my ADN from Cuyahoga College in Cleveland.

    5. Have you lost anyone close to you? I never had anyone close to me. My mother died when I was a teen but, it was no great loss. She was never there for me.

    6. Describe your relationship with your father/mother/siblings. I think we’ve covered my father. As for my mother, she was more worried about the family image than the family itself . She was materialistic and vain, better than everyone else. I think that’s why she was in denial about the whole thing with my father. After one particularly brutal rape, one of my teachers noticed bruises on my legs and arms. She asked how I got them, so I told her the truth. My father was arrested and spent one night in jail. When my mother realized the news was out, she couldn’t handle the shame. She killed herself.
    My older sister did her best to protect me but couldn’t. She was very fearful of my father. As far as I know he never messed with her. I’m not sure why he picked me over her but at least she loved me.

    7. Tell me about past romantic relationships. You’re kidding, right? I mean, I’ve had a few boyfriends but when they learned about my past, most couldn’t deal with it. I'm damaged goods. I did have one that I actually lived with for a couple of years until he started cheating on me. He didn’t think I knew. What happened to him, you ask? Let’s just say that, where he is, I don’t have to worry about him cheating.

    8. Medical history (including psychiatric) I’m healthy. I can’t have kids because of what that monster, my father, did to me, but otherwise I’m fit as a fiddle. I do smoke once in a while when I have a drink, but that’s not that often. Have I ever seen a psychiatrist? After my mother killed herself and I was placed in a foster home, I saw a therapist for a while. I eventually learned that my childhood wasn’t my fault, that I was the victim. She taught me how to take charge of my own life and never be a victim again. And believe me, I won’t be.

    9. Any criminal history. I was arrested for stealing a pair of shoes when I was thirteen.

    10. Who are you?
    I’m a survivor. I am an over comer.

    11. What is your philosophy of life? I look out for myself, because no one else will. I try to be an advocate for victims, like I used to be. That’s why I became a SANE nurse in the first place. I want to do all I can to make sure that no monster ever gets away with the things my father did.
     
  14. Kristen
    Offline

    Kristen New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks everyone. This is really interesting.
    D.T Roberts, I like your interview idea. I'll be sure to try it with some of my characters!
     
  15. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,957
    Likes Received:
    5,486
    Mine appear to come from nowhere--sometimes they appear as images in my mind. Their appearance and voice and attitude just comes to me, as if they're real.

    But later, sometimes years later, I'll understand where they came from--a character from a book or a movie, or a real person, scrambled and re-formed as someone new. And sometimes I'll see that two characters are really the same character, changed through different circumstances.

    But when they first arrive, it's as if they appear fully-formed from nowhere.

    ChickenFreak
     
  16. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    That's kinda my approach. Their appearance typically is a celebrity and then I develop their personality and backstory and such. Usually they end up representing parts of me.
     
  17. Mr_Swashbuckler
    Offline

    Mr_Swashbuckler Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I enjoy writing historically themed fiction. Often my Characters are a mixture of different historical figures and people I know in my own life. I think it’s good to write about a mixture of people because you can pick and choose which personal traits you would like your character to possess.

    I agree with what’s already been mentioned above, my characters often seem to develop my own personal traits without my even knowing it. It’s only when I re-read what I’ve written that I notice this.
     
  18. Birmingham
    Offline

    Birmingham Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    1
    I can tell you not only how I make my characters, but how other authors do.

    We live in amazing times. These days people put their books out for free, legally, on podcasts, that often include a final episode of discussion about the novel. So, we can hear the authors themselves, successful, talented, and published authors, talking about what really made them write the story the way they did, and inspired them to write the characters.

    So Scott Sigler talks in his podcast novel, Earthcore, about some of the characters. Sony McGinnis, an old black miner, was meant to be a an older Chris Rock. Kaila Myers, an assassin from the same novel, was supposed to be an evil version of Nikita.

    As for me, sometimes I just write them based on what I need. Other times I base them on people I've met, but not necessarily copy and paste them. Sometimes a character can be a mix of two different people I know, who have something in common.

    In a way, I base many characters on myself. They can even hate each other, and still be somewhat based on me.

    Even when the character has utterly different background than me, I can draw from my own life. For example: I grew up in a Western country, had a roof over my head, food, etc. One of my characters is a kid from a fictional African country in turmoil, and in one chapter I describe his experiences from his own perspective, from age 5 to age 11. So what I do is I think back to how much I was able to process things on the news when I was his age, and you get an incomplete history of that nation, through the eyes of a child who doesn't know much, doesn't grasp much, and fills in the blanks with his own logic.

    Other characters are made based on topics that interest me. I love the tension between pragmatism and idealism. For example, is it okay to be an ally of Stalin to defeat Hitler? Is it okay to do an alliance with Hitler of Stalin is at your doorstep? So I have politicians who have to deal with that tension of doing bad to achieve greater good.

    Sometimes I throw in a character, or a characteristic, just for the hell of it. For example, what's gonna happen if I throw in a psychopath into the mix? Not some stereotypical serial killer, but a campaign manager, or a white house chief of staff, who does his job properly, but has no capacity to feel love or compassion.
     
  19. Lennon
    Offline

    Lennon New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Birmingham, England
    Hi

    My characters are always fictitious and they grow as the book develops, I have a rough idea about them but I like the idea of them growing with the story and let them take me where they want to go. I may also include little signs of people I know in them.
     
  20. Vince524
    Offline

    Vince524 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    It varies depending on what I need. First I think about what kind of story I want to tell. Then i think of who I need to tell it.

    So my MC is going to be what? A wizard? A vampire? Suicidal? A detective? Son of a killer. All of the above?

    Boy or girl? Happy at the start, or sad. I start to play with them in my head. Sarcastic? I try and think of somethings that set them apart they might help or hinder them. Sometimes both.

    In my MS, VISION OF SHADOWS, I had a teenage girl who was psychic. Her parents freaked out when she was little so she learned to keep it a secret. She secretly thinks of herself as a freak. She kept to herself, but she wasn't shy. She would go toe to toe with someone if need be. I made sure the opening chapter showed that she had a tender heart. (MY wife read it and cried in the first 10 pages.) It's not that she didn't know how to talk to people. It was just living people that worried her.

    Then her best friend. I needed someone who needed defending sometimes, to bring out my MCs protective instinct. But also someone fun and wacky.

    On and on like that. You create what you need.

    I was thinking of this over the weekend as I'm in the process of creating new characters for my new project. I went to the food court near me before going to a movie with my wife & kids. I imagined my three main characters doing the same. Seeing the banter between them.

    I also try and hear them talk in my head. What kind of words do they use? Do they stutter when they get nervous? Are there certain phrases they repeat? What do they say when they get mad? Do they shrug a lot? Smirk?

    As you do this, they take on a life of their own.

    Hope this helps.
     
  21. jigsawkid7
    Offline

    jigsawkid7 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    United States
    My characters usually physically resemble someone I know but their actions and motives are entirely on me and my imagination. I think sometimes I'll find them saying things I see friends saying but for the most part personalities are just created.
     
  22. J_Jammer
    Offline

    J_Jammer Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    323
    Likes Received:
    4
    I create my characters by thinking of them. I have mental seeds like a piece of me and then grow characters from that.
     
  23. Contagion
    Offline

    Contagion Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Mid Wales
    My characters so far (I've only just begun my creative writing journey...) are based on people I know. For example, the two main characters in my current/first story are a mixture of myself and a friend -

    Myself + Friend A = Character A
    Myself + Friend B = Character B
    And so on...

    This not only includes traits, but experiences as well.
     
  24. BobLobLaw
    Offline

    BobLobLaw Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Characters I create come from my imagination. They aren't really based on people I know.

    I came up with my characters for my novel three years ago. I've been looking for a story for them for the longest time, and I finally found one. During that time, I figured pretty much everything about them.

    They went through a lot of changes though. But yeah, anyway.
     
  25. Pythonforger
    Offline

    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amongst the Mortals
    The spring in my mind. I'm like,"So, who shall be the protag's best friend?" then suddenly I just think,"I know! He's called _____, and he's ____ and _____ and ____!"
     

Share This Page