Friday, November 6, 2009

All Because Erin Dyed Her Hair.


My friend Erin (see photo--yep, that's the beautiful Erin) dyed her hair black. So what, right? Well, when her hair was black, her eyes looked gold. And all I could think as I stared at her, and probably freaked her out with my scrutiny, was, "Her eyes look like cat eyes." What does this story have to do with a blog that centers around writing? Everything. When I saw those gold eyes, a character was born. An entire trilogy was inspired. All because Erin dyed her hair (thanks, Erin!).

And then the other day, I supervised youth dodge ball. And this boy, this teenager, walked into the gym. My jaw dropped. My eyes grew round. I stared at the poor teenage boy the whole evening. And I'm sure he got totally creeped out--I am slightly beyond my teenage years, way too old to be staring at him like that. But it was as if the character from my work-in-progress peeled himself off the page and came to that gym to haunt me. If I'd had my notebook, I would have been scribbling furiously. If I'd had a camera, I would have been snapping pictures until the battery died. If I had been brave, I would have talked to him. Instead I studied him from afar and memorized the way he moved, how his t-shirt hung on him, the angle of his cheekbones, how he smiled when he pegged someone with the ball. I went home and wrote him onto paper. And finally fell in love with my character. Sigh.

So where does it come from, your character inspiration? And do you love your characters like I do? Even the bad ones?

--Bethany aka Wiggy

P.S. Check out the Querytracker blog for the latest in agent news.

22 comments:

~Erin~ said...

You make me feel so good about myself :) I love you dearly!!!

Suzette Saxton said...

Nice to "meet" you, Erin! I've heard a lot of good things about you. And how cool that you inspired a novel! Bethany's right - you are beautiful!

Conda V. Douglas said...

Sometimes my characters walk into a novel or short story mid-story--then I have to go back and put them in the beginning because they refuse to leave...

Mandy said...

LOVE, LOVE this post! Once during volleyball camp, I spent a half hour writing about a player that attended. Her features were screaming "I'm a character straight out of a book!" I draw so much on the world around me and people I know or have briefly met. Real-life truly is the best foundation for great fiction!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Loved this post. Eavesdropping, staring, seem part of a writer's life. Sometimes an embarrassing part.
The trick, of course, is to be sure you record your reaction, something I sometimes neglect.

Rebecca L Sutton said...

Love this story, but where's the pic of her with the black hair? I must see these golden eyes. (oh that makes her sound like a Twilight vamp!)

My ideas hit me like this too. But mostly its in the car or shower that I get sudden flashes of inspiration. Not the best places for writing them down!

Diana Paz said...

Hi Bethany, I just wanted to come over and say thank you for your kindness on my blog :)

And Erin is gorgeous, loved this post :)

Angie said...

I have had that happen too, and wished I had a camera with me.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Thanks for your comments, guys. Conda, in my current WIP, a new character jumped in midway. And now, it turns out he is going to play a major role in... EVERYTHING. Funny how that works.

Lisa and Laura said...

This is hilarious! Let's hope you're not arrested before you can finish writing the book!

I'm actually sort of jealous that you found real life inspirations for your characters. Our characters end up being a random mix of old friends and celebrities.

Sliding on the Edge said...

I totally loved this post. I once followed someone around town, feeling like a super stalker just so I could note the details of what he did and how he did it. Characters come in many ways I guess, but I'm worried that if many come as passersby on the street I might be arrested.

Oh well, the price of art!

Tara C said...

Ah, I got your comment on my blog. Thanks!

Diana Paz said...

Hi Bethany, an award for you on my blog :)
Diana

Hardygirl said...

Oh this is fabulous! I love spotting someone who can be one of my characters, but since I write picture books and middle grade, I have to be careful lest I be accused of being a pedophile!

What a fabulous breakthrough!

sf

B.J. Anderson said...

Lol, that's hilarious! :D And yes, I love my characters. I like to find a picture or person to model my characters from, and then I sit and stare at them and dream up my story. Great post! :D

Katie said...

Ooo Yummy! I loved this cool post!

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Bethany,

Nice to meet you, too. Thanks for stopping by to say hello.

Jessica (BookLover) said...

Great post! Once, when I was in a restaurant, I noticed someone who suddenly reminded me of a character from a book I was reading. I was trying not to stare too conspicuously, but the company I was with got an ear full (even though they had no idea what I was talking about).

Karen Walker said...

Just wanted to stop by and thank you for your comment on my blog.
Karen

Busy Bee Suz said...

Inspiration can from anywhere...very interesting!

Sharon Mayhew said...

My characters come from people I know or observe. I save phrases and actions I see and hear in lists to help me build characters. Ideas pop in my head all the time. I'm the person driving down the road swirving because I just have to write it down before I forget....

Liza said...

Hi Bethany, Thanks for visiting (and following!!) my blog. I'm just beginning to adventure into fiction, so I haven't had this experience yet. Long ago though, I met someone who was writing a book with a character named "Liza." After he met me he changed the name. Hmmm.