Friday, January 9, 2009

The little darlings that drive a story forward...

Here's a topic that was a reader favorite during my book club chats in 2008 -- character creation. Do you find it hard to think up characters for your stories? Are they based on people you know? Do you have favorites?

Each character I've created to date (protagonists, secondary characters, even walk-ons) has, for the most part, arrived fully formed. Of course, before they showed up in my creative process I'd spent months (or in the case of the novel I'm writing now, years) thinking about the story before I began writing it, including the kind of characters I felt would best drive the story forward.

Once I know who the characters are and what role they'll each play, I think the best way to describe them is how they behave. I really don't like to go overboard with physical description. I prefer to give them beliefs or behaviors or characteristics that set them apart instead.

Yes, there have been a few rare cases where I've "fashioned" a character after someone I know (ie., Tommy in The Tin Box) but I don't typically do that. As for favorites, I have soft spots for Tommy and Lexie in The Tin Box, Erna in The Penny Tree, Louie in The Silver Compass, and a man named Jack in the novel I'm working on now.


Nadine said...

I never get 1st post so this ROCKS. gotta type fast here... Erna in Penny Tree was one of my favorite characters too! Her and Kenly in Tin Box, then Tommy.

Sheeeeeyite -- you spent YEARS thinking about the novel you're writing now? Kewl.

Adam said...

I'd make a great character for someone's novel. Lotsa charma and charisma. So what if I'm losing my hair. I still got it.

kyla-dale said...

Tommy was based on somebody you knew? How interesting!!
I luved that guy.

Carrie said...

My favorite character so
far is Annie in Penny tree.
Please keep writing!

Carrie deLoude (Cleveland)

Victoria said...

My imagination sucks.
guess thats why im such a big reader and not a writer of any kind huh?

Jessica said...

I've been thinking about characterization lately and like your point about thinking up a person who will drive the story forward.
Excellent advice!
Thanks for sharing.