Challenge #9: How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
-What is ‘Persons First’
While sorting laundry in my garage, I was mulling over The Inheritance Cycle. Namely, Eragon’s unfortunate “blessing” to Elva. I thought, in my usual quest for the romantic, of the problems she’d face in finding a husband, being that men aren’t as attuned to the extreme emotional upset that women suffer and in addition to her unique “ability” she’d have a whole host of trouble. Dialogue formed in my mind and I talked it out between two characters. It soon struck me that this wasn’t about Elva, but a new character that had a similar story to be told. She didn’t belong in the realm of Eragon, but deserved her own kingdom.
She became Lira of Tierelyss. And no, I find no shame in disclosing how other stories influence my writing. It’s a high compliment for authors to inspire other authors. That’s why I still love The Inheritance Cycle, regardless of how people complain about the “originality” of them. Show me one story that has no likeness to any historical happening or previous literary work and I’ll take Trigonometry. And in case this needs to be stated, I hate triangles and I hate maths. So, yeah. I’m that confident you won’t.
-What is ‘Theme Device’
Currently, I’m fleshing out my “Red” character. I’m molding her to fit a desired narrative/plot/story theme rather than using her to carry those elements along. As I figure out how the fairy tale is to be twisted, “Red” grows as a person, shaped by the events that unfold. It works out perfectly for this story because the very start of it places her in unknown territory with no memories. So “Red” and I are learning together who she is and why.
I used a similar process for Emma Browne, Brisella, and I’m sure several others. This can create difficulty down the road if I find myself writing a scenario that conflicts with a previously established character trait and I have to decide if it makes more sense to change the plot or change the character. Either way, it’s a pain. These are the characters that are inseparable from their stories. Meaning, memes are useless. The story is so much a part of who they are that alternate situations confuse. And yet, these characters are the most real to me.
-What is ‘Dream Catcher’
Sometimes my REM cycles are very kind and hand me well-rounded characters that need little more than names. I can’t give you tips on how to dream as awesomely as I do. Maybe make sure you get a solid five hours? And set an alarm to wake you up. I’ve read you’re more likely to remember a dream when woken from a deep sleep, and it seems to be true. Don’t let yourself wake up naturally.
Those are just three examples of how characters come to be in my head and on paper. But the methods are as vast as the number of side quests in Knights of the Old Republic. Don’t fuss over methods. Just stick to whatever works for you.
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
HAH! This post’s permalink had the digits 2319 at the end before I gave it a title. :P I find that amusing.