Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where Do You Get Your Characters?

These are the ways I've found mine:

  1. From a Jazz game. This poor father of 7 probably thought I had a crush on him, because I even took his photo with my cellphone. What caught my attention was the way he cheered for the opposing team while all his children rooted for the Jazz.
  2. A snip of this, a bit of that. Some of my characters are purely my own invention - and frankly, these have been the hardest to flesh out.
  3. From thin air. Fully formed, this is my favorite way to get them. I still remember the child's voice I heard coming from behind a hedge on the school playground, the voice that stayed with me as I penned Three Secrets.

If you'd like to get to know your characters better, check out the questionnaire I posted today on the QueryTracker blog.

What about you? How do you get your characters?

~Suzette~

*Check out agent Suzie Townsend's blog to win Hourglass by Claudia Gray. All you need to do is comment.

*Jackee at Winded Words had a fun scavenger hunt last Friday, and I won! Thanks, Jackee!

39 comments:

TerryLynnJohnson said...

thanks for the links.
My characters tend to be parts of people I've known, my stepkids, teachers, the bully who scared me on the bus everyday, and sometimes, a little of who I'd like to be.

Brenda said...

I found one of my characters saying a phrase that my old college roommate said, although she bears no resemblance, otherwise. I've also found that I have the picture so clearly in my head of my MC that I stare at strangers on public transit, trying to match someone to my visual. I like the questionnaire you've posted at Query Tracker. Very helpful.

OfficeGirl said...

My characters are out of thin air. Except that now I feel like my herione is becoming more like me. She is bitter, a little insane and is a little bit of a hermit. Anyway most of them are straight of of the ol' noggin.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great links! So far, my children have provided me with a mountain of character ideas. Also, my husband is hugely creative and imaginative and is always coming up with fun ideas. :-)

Jana Hutcheson said...

My characters are usually a combination of people I know, former students, and characters I've seen on television or in the movies. I find it very hard to invent characters out of thin air.

Scott said...

For the most part - thin air, and bits of me, or the me I might have been had I done this, that, this, that, this, that . . . and on and on!

I do get inspired for minor characters from going out every now and then, but the major characters are normally out of thin air. Okay, there is one project where the basis for the characters came from people I know, but only the basis, not the total package.

S

Bethany Wiggins said...

I write a lot of my characters out of thin air and then discover that the character bears a striking resemblance to the kid down the street!

Other characters are inspired by bits of people I see on a weekly basis... gold eyes, a character's name... One MC looks just like the boy from Taylor Swift's music video "You Belong With Me." Funny thing is, I wrote the whole MS and then saw the video and was like... Hey! How'd they get my character to act in this video?

Lydia Kang said...

Funny how thin air is replete with new characters. That's my source!

Patti said...

Sometimes my characters are based who I'd like to be.

Laura Pauling said...

I love getting the ideas for names and characters from real life people. If there is anything historical at all about my novel, just researching brings up great characters and names.

bookaholic said...

Lovely post-nice and fun!

Yamile said...

My characters are a mix of people I knew and others have traits that come from me, even my villains. My heroes especially eerily resemble boys I liked when I was a teenager :-)

Michael Rivers said...

My characters come from different sources too. Like a recipe that you never know how it will turn.

Slamdunk said...

My characters are usually a product of people that I have known. Like picking several colors of playdoh and building something just the way you like it.

Amy Jo said...

I'm lucky as a high school teacher because I'm around hundreds of students every day whom I can analyze for quirky traits. I tend to draw composites from what I see and hear. It's amazing how much characterization you can develop just walking down the hall during class breaks!

Jennie Englund said...

I agree with Bethany. I think I've created a very original character, and then I realize it's either someone or parts of different someones I know.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

For me, my MCs usually pop up with name and history intact. (For the most part. I do usually have to flesh out some things.)

Other characters, sometimes they just appear and sometimes I really have to look at the story and ask myself what the MC needs? Does she need that best guy friend she can talk to about anything? Does she need a good girl friend she can let loose and be silly with? Etc. What do these other characters bring to everything?

Those are the sorts of things I sometimes will consider when searching for characters with which to populate my manuscript.

Kayeleen said...

My characters always have at least a small piece of me in them, but usually, the initial inspiration is completely random and fully formed.

Jackee said...

You're very welcome, of course.

And I love getting characters full-formed out of thin air too. It's the lazy way to do it! :o)

Jen said...

Hmm I would have to say out of thin air, normally I start with my plot and then give a brief description of what I'd like them to look like, red hair, green eyes, thin, and from there I start to write, she evolves as I evolve it makes more for editing but I think it's worth it!

Jon Paul said...

It's thin air for me mostly. Most of the some the concept for a story hits me and then the sketchy outline of the guy/gal that fits in that story begins to come into focus.

Nice post and thanks for the links.

Angie said...

This is the second blog I've read today to ask that question. I get characters like I get ideas, from everywhere. I think people-watching and eavesdropping are the best way to pick up character traits and then turn them into your own creations. Your characters are fantastic!

Carolyn V. said...

At one of the conferences I attended they mentioned taking a character from a movie you've seen. I had never thought of that before, but it was a good idea! =)

KrysteyBelle said...

One of my characters came from a tattoo I want. I thought, "Why would she have this? How did she get it?" Then I decided she got it when she was 16 with a fake ID that said, "For novelty purposes only" across the back. =)

L.T. Elliot said...

I was watching a show on Discovery Channel once about lightning and a character walked right into my head. It was...surreal.

CL Beck, author: MormonMishaps said...

My characters usually show up in my head, voices and all, although once in a while I'll mold a character around someone I've seen. Thanks for an interesting post on this.

And it was fun to meet you last night, Suzette! Thanks for stopping by the library fundraiser and buying books!

Cheree said...

Great question. My characters come from here and there, I guess I take them from behaviours, looks and attitudes I observe and then mash them all into the one character.

Caledonia Lass said...

The majority of my characters are based off of friends, people around me. Some are different parts of my own character/personality. Others I have created out of thin air as I watch people move through life, blissfully unaware that I am studying them.
No, I am not a stalker. By the way, you are out of milk. :D

JayceeKaycee said...

Good question! My MC is probably an exaggerated version of my teenage self- funny, but insecure and shy. Most of my other characters are not based on real people at all. They start out as shadows in my mind, and as I write more, I learn more about them and they become "real." Then I go back and fill in the earlier parts if needed.

G said...

Most of my characters are composites of real people from my life, plus with a healthy dash of me thrown in as well.

I do have a tendency to poke fun at myself when I blog, and when I write, I try to delve deeper within myself so as to better flesh out my male characters.

Christi Goddard said...

My characters just sort of happen. I know their quirks before I know their names. Here's a good example: my current MS I have seven characters that are going to be introduced in the next chapter. I know all about them -but their names. Today at work I realized what I was naming four of them. Still got the other three to go. :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Good question - my characters sort of pop, pretty much fully-formed, into my head - usually when I'm supposed to be sleeping. :)

Palindrome said...

Thin air for me!

suzie townsend said...

Thank you for the link! And I loved reading all the comments! I am in awe of creative people :)

Sharon Mayhew said...

My characters are mixtures of people I have known over the years...

Christine Fonseca said...

I get ideas all over the place - since I work with YAs all day, I think my brain is constantly working!!!

Crimey said...

I'm pretty sure that most of my characters come from thin air, but some are definitely inspired by people in real life.

Jamie Burch said...

Congratulations on your win!

Cheree said...

My characters tend to come from different people I observe (and being a waitress I observe a lot of people in a day). If there's a particular quirk or look or attitude that will suit my characters then it will probably end up in my story.