Thursday, May 30, 2013

June 2013 Ramble: Where Do Characters Come From, Mommy?

My writing group’s topic this month is “How do you create your characters?” As with most of our topics, our answers will be different. I decided to go through a few of my projects and jot down how I ended up with the characters I have and see if I could find a pattern ;) And what do you know, I did!

Love in all Directions – I thought it would be fun to have a regency quartet with four brothers who go by North, South, East and West. So I came up with names that would shorten to those nicknames and then I started seeing their faces and feeling their personalities. Then they told me about their parents and their childhood traipsing around the known world. Each born in an area corresponding with their directional names. Things took off from there.

Seven Spires – I had some names that I wanted to use and an idea of a world. Once I got the world more concrete in my mind I saw where the different characters fit into it. I started by filling out a character sheet and writing a prologue for each of the seven main characters and a couple pre-prologues of their ancestors. As I wrote they became clearer and told me more about themselves.

Fork in the Road – I had an idea of an inventor and his creation rattling around in my head for a long time, but it wasn’t until NaNoWriMo that I actually fleshed him out. Again, I just kept my fingers typing and he came to life – along with his rival and love interest.

Perfect World – I had a basic plot idea that mulled itself around my mind until Dave Farland’s Writer's Death Camp last November. I talked with him about it and that conversation shaped the overall story/theme enough that I felt excited to sit down and write it. As I went more details filled themselves in.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that I’m a discovery writer. I start out with a name; a picture/piece of artwork; a concept or idea of a world and then sit down and let my fingers do the discovering. I have found more often than I can count that I’ll write something a character does or says and think to myself in passing “Hmm… wonder why they did that?” only to discover a few days or weeks later “Ohh! That’s why!”

When I was younger I would think about my characters a lot more before trying to write them. Too much, in my opinion. I’d obsess about their hair, their clothes, their mannerisms and never get around to actually writing about them doing anything. Once I decided to just write and see where it took me, I got a lot farther and I still discovered their hair style, clothing preferences and their mannerisms.

This will not be the way for everyone. Some people are not discovery writers in any sense of the word and so my way of doing things will seem crazy and inefficient to them. And that’s okay. You just need to figure out how –your- process works and work it!

I’d love to hear about how your little darlings are brought into your worlds. Leave me a comment below! Until next time, dear reader. Nanu Nanu.

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