A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, September 19, 2010

30 Days of Writing - Day 9

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

That's a hard question to answer.  My characters come from a lot of different places.  Some are based on people I've encountered.  Some come from ideas sparked by reading or watching movies.  Some spring whole and ready to go out of my subconscious in the form of dreams.  Wherever they come from, however, they are only bare bones - ideas without flesh.  They are not exactly who they will be when I set them in motion on the page.

When I have a character arrive, I look at them and ask myself where they would fit.  Which world will they inhabit?  Do they have their own story to tell, or are they part of a larger story?  Who are they as people?  What are their likes/dislikes?  What is their favorite color, their favorite food, their favorite music?  I tailor the questions to match the idea of the world I think they're going to inhabit.  If they don't fit in that one, I try to see if they fit into another established story.  If they don't, and I don't yet know what their story is, I file them away to be used at another time.

This is how I came up with the short story arc surrounding Emir, Tyber, and Elizabeata.  They were three characters I didn't know anything about who just showed up one day demanding I write about them.  I found out something about them and realized while they fit into the world of Aleran they didn't fit into any established story.  At that point, I made a few more notes and left them to sit.  I eventually wrote a trio of short stories that were rather half assed but at least they got voices and had some time to shine.  Recently I went through and edited two of the three stories, and completely rewrote the third.  Now the stories fit better in the timeline of Aleran, and seem to fit better with the characters as they presented themselves to me.


I've got spreadsheets, character dossiers, and random bits of information about everyone I've created tucked into folders, saved in my email, and on my computer.  One day I hope to find a home for all of my orphaned creations, since I firmly believe that all my creations have their own part in a story - be it their own, or as sub-characters helping tell someone else's tale.

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