Day 9: Character Creation

Day 9 of my 30 Days of Writing About Writing.

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

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This is a fun question.

My character ideas come from all over the place. Sometimes it’s a song, other times it’s a powerful character in another book or film, or even just a specific trait from a name or a person that I wish to develop further. Some people say they cannot know their character unless they know the character’s name. Others say they need to know the character before they know the name. I figure out both around the same time.

My characters tell me their names. They are empty shells when I first start creating them, and as I converse with them, they hint and allude to their names. It starts with an N, one will tell me. It has 3 syllables, another will whisper. I’ll keep searching and guessing until I find the right name, and once I do, my characters become real. They are no longer empty shells, but real people. People I sit and sip tea with over lunch while discussing their latest plights and conflicts. Sometimes they even tell me how much they hate their names, which is when I go back to the drawing board to find them more suitable ones.

That is what happened with Natiae from my unnamed novel. Years ago, her name was Catrin. She came up to me one night as I was sleeping and told me she hates her name, and that I should give her a new one. She told me how bored Lyneth was and how dull of a character Malachi was. She continued on to tell me how the whole ‘love thing’ just wasn’t for her. I realized how right she was, and began recreating her entire story. She is now Natiae Revalyn, girl who becomes a woman under the harshest of circumstances. Malachi is gone, replaced with Reina, Bane, and Kali Borim (Reina and Bane haven’t told me their surname yet, as they are cousins and share one). Lyneth is still not quite happy, but that’s Lyneth for you. Never content with anything.

God-Chosen took a different path. It started one day when I got a brilliant vision of a young man walking home from work when the world explodes and a mysterious young woman from his dreams saves his life (IE the first scene in God-Chosen). I narrated the scene to a friend, and the story just kept developing from there. I got through most of the beginning without naming my MCs. They had some semblance of personality, but since I was simply narrating the tale off the top of my head, 3-dimensional characters weren’t necessary. I liked how the story was going, however, so I asked them their names. They told me without much struggle: Lucian and Amara. These names gave their personalities that much-needed third dimension, and now they, too, join me for lunch on occasion. Though last we met, Lucian and I had a bit of an argument. It seems he has a Hercules complex and insists he has no weakness. It’s going to be hard to break him, but by the gods I’ll do it!

They all have physical bodies, too, not just personalities. But I’ll not describe to you that which you can see for yourself. My characters may  just appear at your kitchen table one day, and then you can see for yourself what they look like.

Tea Party

You're never too old for Alice in Wonderland.

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Tomorrow’s question: What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!



Ishana Mayakashi
Stay Happy, Remain Beautiful

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on September 18, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love hearing how each writer develops characters and experiences their presonalities. Mine love to argue with me too. 🙂 One of my favorite ways to meet new characters is by observing interesting/unusual people in the mall, at the beach, etc. It’s a game my mom and I have played since I was a kid. We make up the details of people’s life based off our observations of their actions and appearance. Sometimes they turn into stories later. Sometimes they don’t. Either way, it keeps life interesting.

    • People watching is a fantastic way to develop characters. That is the only reason I opt to write in public places on occasion. It would be interesting to see how differently two people perceive the same person.

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