DIYMFA: Collecting Characters

Posted 26 September, 2011 by DLWhite in Writers Write 1 Comment

Characters  are my favorite topics to talk about, because I love a character I can sink my teeth into. A well-rounded character will have an entire history his or her own and I will know them like the back of my hand, to the point where I can predict what s/he will say or do in a certain situation.

This week we’re talking about our characters and how we collect them. Do we have a grouping of people hanging out in our heads or on paper waiting to be written? Are they stolen from real life and pieced together?

My writing style is usually plot driven, mostly because I have written so much fan fiction where the main character is always the same person, different situation. Add original characters, mix, and pour into a glass. My original fiction has followed the same path because that is what I’m used to. A “what if” situation or a “ripped from the headlines” story might plant a bug, and then I start to design characters that would/wouldn’t fit and figure out how to make the story interesting.

I collect some of my characters from real life but change so many of the characteristics that I’d be impressed if anyone recognized themselves. I try to “model” characters after a person, either by personality or by appearance. I had a serial story that I wrote for a long, long time and one of the minor characters was modeled after one of our off site managers at work. From time to time, he comes to the office, so sometimes it’s like having that character just a few feet away from me. Really weird feeling, by the way.  There are others that I take first or last names but no other info like the job they have or their family makeup. I combine and build and develop until I have a pretty much ‘fictional’ person and only I know the original inspiration.

I’ve also told my friends when they end up in my stories.., though I always let them know if I am going to use their name or something they’d recognize. One of my friend’s names recently showed up in a story without her knowing and it was quite the surprise. I know I’m not the only person on earth with my (real) name but it is not a “typical” name so it would stand out if someone used it.

The main character in my current WIP was born from the title of an album. I started mulling it over in my mind and a ‘what if’ situation popped up and I started inserting characters.


One Response to “DIYMFA: Collecting Characters”

  1. Satia Renee

    I’ve had it happen where a character stepped up and demanded to tell a story.  Other times, like with my current WIP, the story was there, including theme, and the characters emerged from everything else.  It all seemed to fit/flow and after all was said and done I had a rough draft that I figured is either brilliant or a mess.  I’ve decided that it’s a messy piece of potential brilliance and now the real work of revision begins.  Now if only I’d stop procrastinating . . .