Friday, August 22, 2008


If someone asks me where my characters come from, my answer would be half-hearted. You see, the entire time I've been writing, my characters come out of the story. I usually come up with the situation first and the characters grow from there. Then I form their goals, motivations and conflicts. I don't know if my stories are more plot driven or character driven.

Probably neither. Right now, they're just there - waiting to be worked on.

But I digress, I'm talking about characters in our stories. Where do yours come from?
Have you been asked? Have you ever given it much thought? Or, do they just drop down from the sky into your MS Word document?

In considering this topic, I recall writing my first story back in the 7th grade, some twenty years ago. The characters were based off my friends at the time. I described the way they looked, but then put them in the situation I had dreamed up.

Nowadays, an author can get sued for doing that!

I don't think it is good to base a character off someone you know unless you are 100 percent sure you won't get sued. I do think we as writers should draw off our surroundings and watch people react in certain situations, as well as making mental notes of how they walk, talk and speak. After all, life is stranger than fiction...

I work with many people and talk to many more on a day-to-day basis with my job. It's amazing how some people think it's okay to tell that little white lie. Others talk about her or him as soon as they walk away. Some just meander around and seem to mind their own business. These are traits we can use in our stories. Our characters, even our supporting characters should always be doing something. How they react to certain situations makes them unique.

Now I turn the tables on you... How do you come up with your characters?


  1. I don't know. Usually somebody's situation or face makes me start daydreaming and then I have to make up a plot to go with the voices/scene in my head.

  2. I was just thinking about this the other day wondering if maybe I needed to loosen up a bit. I start with my characters, trying to think up opposites and figure out what their conflict can be about. Then I do a lot of prep work digging into their pasts, looking at their GMC, etc. I don't usually start the story until I know the whole history of the characters. But I was wondering if maybe I should try to go ahead and start writing, letting the characters form as I write.

    I've found in the past, though, that that leads to more revisions. So maybe I should keep doing my current method. :)

    Right now, I did a bunch of planning before starting chapter one. But I'm making little adjustments on my heroine as I go. I think I've decided to change her past a bit (the wounds that have made her who she is at Ch. 1).

    Great topic, Christy!


  3. I also meant to say that I think of people I know. But I just take bits of them and incorporate into a totally different character.

    Jessica, I always have scenarios in my head, too! :)


  4. Hey guys- I'm back after a very loooong week with the teenage kiddies. Good to be able to take part once in a while at least.

    How do I come up with my characters? Hmmmm....interesting topic. For me, I usually get a name first. Unusual name or one that is just on my mind. From there I dream up their character traits and personality. On my first book, the one in revisions, I didn't have the good sense (or education) to know about GMC points. Hence, it's still in revisions. The second book I'm working on, I still got the name first, but I'm trying to lay out character points and backgrounds before I start writing. Again, hoping to cut down on revisions like you Missy.

    Does anyone else have any other suggestions? I'm always interested to hear if someone has a better way than me.

  5. Dianna, I know I've mentioned this book before when we've talked about plotting, but it's great for digging really deep into your characters:

    The Story Within Workbook by Alicia Rasley. She sells them online.


  6. I generally start out with a rough idea of their 'basic' characteristics and then they tend to develop as the WIP uncurls (in case you can't tell I'm also a total pantser!). Apart from the characters who unexpectedly fall from the sky - they tend to have a will of their own!

    Only one of my characters is based on a real person - and she has promised not to sue me if I ever get pubished as long as she gets a great guy in the end ;)

  7. LOL, Kara! I guess she would be pleased to end up with a hero. :)