Uncategorized · Writing Snippets & Exercises

30 Days of Writing: Day 9

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

Scenario I.
-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.

Scenario II.
-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.

Scenario III.
-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.

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A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
-Richard Bach

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HAH! This post’s permalink had the digits 2319 at the end before I gave it a title. :P I find that amusing.

"Twenty-three nineteen! We have a twenty-three nineteen!"
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6 thoughts on “30 Days of Writing: Day 9

  1. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who rips off other characters! xD

    Joking aside, though, this was a great post, as I very much relate to it. And it’s fun getting to crawl inside the innerworkings of your mind! ^_^

  2. I used to love the Inheritance Cycle, but then I went off it completely. I was not able to get past Eldest. For me, it just has far too many characters (i.e. just about everybody) that I want to throw with something good and heavy. :P And I’ll endlessly debate about the originality of the plot/characters/place-names. Certainly every book has intertextuality, but Paolini took it too far. Just what I feel! ;)

    How do I come up with characters?
    Easy. I get a name and then I make a list of characteristics. I’m a boring nerd. ;)

    Okay, done with my characteristically long comment! :D

  3. Yes, I totally do the same! A lot of my characters spring from songs or old movies and books and, like you, from dreams. Kind of crazy how that works.

    I do have a lot of problems with figuring out how to make their characteristics stick. Somehow they lose some and gain new ones half way through the story ;) …weird.

    The only problem I have with the Inheritance Cycle is that he took Hrothgar’s name from Beowulf and didn’t change it one bit. Grrrr. But I love the books so I can deal with it. Have you read the last book?? I cried and cried at the end and somehow I got the books a week before it actually came out because a grocery store near us accidentally put it out too early :) Muahaha.

    Wow…this comment is long. Okay bye

    1. Crazy awesome! :D Yeah, it’s overwhelming sometimes because I’ll have ideas spurting out of me like a dam just broke in my head and I simply do not have time to write them all down. That maketh meh sadde. (Tried to be Old English. Failed.)

      That’s part of the journey that makes character developing fun, though! And if you let the character take you somewhere you didn’t expect, sometimes it works out even better! And sometimes you want to throttle this character into just FITTING INTO THE DARNED STORY THE WAY YOU PLANNED!! Sorry… I know the feeling. ;)

      See, if I was up to date on my medieval history, I’d probably like the Inheritance Cycle a lot less. When I read Tolkien I don’t like Paolini. :P Funny how that works. I have not read the last one yet!! I loved Eldest but wasn’t thrilled with the last one… Brisingr? Yeah. Don’t even remember what it was about. I missed the Elves. And the foresty stuff. And the fun magic. *sigh* That is an excellent mistake to benefit from!!

      Well, I gave a long reply, how’s that? ;)

  4. For characters, I sometimes do a journal and write as if I am disclosing their deepest darkest thoughts for a period of time. It helps me flesh them out and then the problems in the story plot usually push them along and I already know from the journal exercise what they’ll most likely do and what kind of person they are–and then I let them take the wheel and drive through the story. It can sometimes be a crazy ride!

    Love your blog and thoughts. I am giving you the ABC award tomorrow on my blog, if you care to accept it. If you hate awards, it won’t hurt my feelings if you mark me as spam and delete this comment. If you love awards, then step back and listen to the cheering crowd.

    1. That’s a great idea!! For a couple characters I copied a personality survey and took it from their perspectives. It helped a great deal in grasping their backgrounds. I found some answers coming to me spur of the moment; things I hadn’t even thought of before. But a journal would be even more in-depth and helpful!

      Ooo, I love awards! :D Thank you ever so much!! *blushes at the cheering crowd*

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