Tuesday, 10 January 2017

My inspiration for writing characters.

I enjoy writing about interesting characters. I also like reading about interesting characters. But where does the inspiration for characters come from? For this post I thought I'd think about where I get my inspiration from when creating characters for my stories.

I'm a people watcher. I can't help it, everywhere I go I spend some time watching the folk and devising lives and back stories for them. I jot down my observations in my notebook and have a store of characters to draw upon when I need them. Sometimes it's the appearance of the people that I note down, sometimes it's their body language or their conversation. I try not to eavesdrop too much, that might be creepy. However some folk will talk loudly so I can't help hearing what they say! I like to speculate about their relationship with the people they are with. Are they romantically involved? Friends? Colleagues? Or even random strangers thrown together by circumstances? Some of these people will find their way into my stories.

Another source of characters are friends and relatives. Now this is a rich seam of characters. After all, who do you know better than your nearest and dearest? But it's vital to either be kind in your portrayal or to change them enough so they don't recognise themselves, especially if you're not going to be complimentary about them. No story is worth upsetting your brother or best mate over when you make them into a murderer or a real cad!

Some people come from out of nowhere. You start writing and there they are, fully formed and with their own distinctive voice, I suppose that they must have been the product of someone you met but you can't quite work out who. Perhaps they are someone you met briefly and have forgotten but they are lodged in the back of your mind waiting for the perfect story for the to appear in. This sort of character is a gift and I thank the writing gods when they pop up.

It seems obvious to say that everything you have read is a possible source of characters. Sometimes you need a villain so you grab a bit of Fagin and a bit of Moriarty, shake them up a little and out pops your villain. So it's really important as a writer to read as much as possible. Every professional writer I've ever seen interviewed stresses the importance of reading. As an aspiring writer I claim that all my reading is research!

So there are a few ideas for where to find your characters. Where do you look for yours?

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