Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Characters don't grow on trees, you know

"How do you invent such rich, multifaceted characters?" I get asked this question a lot by my fans. Okay, I don't have any fans (hi mom!), but if I did, I'd like to think that they'd want to know about my character development process. Because for me, my characters are what will keep my readers (once I get some) coming back for more. Their realism and humour and relatability will ensure that I can tell the stories that really matter and still generate sales. What are the other options? Writing in gratuitous sex scenes or putting a picture of an adorable puppy on the cover? Puh-leese. I would never stoop so low.

Anyhoo, every writer has a different way of going about character generation and every writer, at some point, gets screamed at by a crazy, paranoid uncle ("You-a make-a fun of-a my accent in your-a book-a or what-a?!!"). True, some writers steal every inch of the souls of those around them and sell their lives as fiction. But where's the fun in that?

Okay, so sometimes I do recycle a story or two from my real life and twist it around a bit. (Especially in early drafts when my fiction confidence was quite low.) But overall, my characters are made up from only mere bits and pieces of friends and enemies from my present and past. In fact, more often than not, my characters are borne from the collected hands, faces and groins of strangers that I'm mashed up against on the 8:30 a.m. train.

I have an okay imagination but I'm best at (and prone to) exaggeration of things that already exist in nature and public transportation. So, usually, if there's something interesting about a person I meet or remember or see every day, I hold onto It in my brain, Wiggle It around for a while, and out pops Character.

It + Wiggle = Character

It's simple math, really.

For character development tips from someone who matters, stop reading my useless blog and check out this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment