Monday, July 5, 2010

Character Inspiration

Writing ideas come from the strangest places. I have heard writers tell me they had a dream or even a person just popped into their head out of nowhere, and they were inspired to write their story. One thing I know for certain, writers are a strange bunch. We can weave the most extravagant tales from nothing. And yes we hear voices. LOL Ok most would say that’s a mental disorder but it’s not for a writer. That’s how we get in touch with our characters and take them from an idea to the characters you know and love dearly. So let’s take a ride through the mind of a writer, Watch out this might be a little scary. HeeHee.

Let’s start with character. The characters in a book are the backbone, they are what holds the story together. Finding your characters is the first thing you must do before you start writing. Where do you find them? Characters can come from anywhere. Mine usually start in my head. I think about what I plan to write, not the whole story just a general idea. That helps me to think about my characters, what they will face and what kind of characters I need. Do they need to be strong, helpless, sweet, evil? Ok now you know the type of personality you need. Once I do this it helps me picture them in my mind. If you are writing about the girl next door, I can almost bet she won’t be a tall red head with a voluptuous figure. She will look like the average person. So for me personality plays a big part in who my characters are and what they look like.

My alpha male in A Vamp To Remember is tall, dark and handsome. Sounds typical right? Well this is where you make them just a little different. Zan is over six feet tall, has long black hair with metallic silver streaks and his eyes are dark almost black with silver encircling them. This is what I mean when I say make them just a little different. You don’t have to take drastic measures just give them something that makes them stand out in a crowd. His eyes alone would do that for me as a reader. I write paranormal and the characters in this genre can get pretty bizarre at times, so remember to give them something that connects them to the reader. They have to be believable. It can be as simple as the big bad monster that falls in love and shows a tender side to the woman that has tamed the savage beast.

Now you have a general idea. Let’s take it a little further. I like to look for pictures of my characters and hang them in front of me while I write. It really makes my characters come to life. It’s amazing you look at pictures and think nope not him. Then all of a sudden you find the one you have been looking for. That’s when you realize you knew what he looked like all along. This really helps me connect with my characters on a deeper level. I know you are thinking a picture come on, but you would be shocked how inspiring a picture can be.  I find myself staring at them and wonder what next? Sometimes they answer and sometimes they just stare back. LOL

We talked a little about their personality. Let’s talk about really getting to know your characters. How do you do that? The best place to start is a character chart. It will ask your characters questions you never thought to ask. What are their likes and dislikes? Goals and hopes? Fears? Motivation?  These are just a few, there are too many to list. I will give you a link to a good character chart at the end of the blog. You won’t need to use all the questions asked on a character chart but they are handy to have around. They are helpful when you need a personality trait or description. It’s also helpful if you are in the middle of a chapter and you forget his eye color. LOL Yes it happens to the best of us.

Most writers form a bond with their characters. I know it sounds weird but this is the case with me. I grow very close to my characters. I have had writers even tell me they felt a loss when a story came to an end. They become real in a writers mind. But I think you have to form this bond in order for the characters to come across as real to the reader. If you force characters you don’t believe in they will come across as forced. Then the story just falls flat. You need to feel the characters are close friends in order for them to intrigue the reader and tug at their emotions. If the reader loves your characters the odds are they will love the story as well.

Characters can be found everywhere. All you have to do is open your eyes and look around. They are the people you see in the grocery store, the mall, at work or passing you on the street. Inspiration comes when we open our eyes to the real world and watch others at a distance. Watch the way people act, move and talk. It really is amazing what we miss as we go about our daily lives. Open your eyes to inspiration it’s all around you.

I would love to hear where you find inspiration for your characters.

Character Chart:

Happy Reading and Writing

Tabitha Blake

In my head I hear voices screaming to be heard. So I write their stories. My characters speak to me and lead me through their joys and sorrows.
Tabitha Blake


Brenda said...

Great post, Tabby. Very, get it? Inspirational, and you wrote about character inspiration......okay, stupid joke. But anyway, great post.
What inspired my characters in my MS actually was an incident, or more an imagined incident. That came first and then my characters followed. But as I got deeper into the world I was beginning to create, my characters became the inspiration to tell this story.

Tabitha Blake said...

It is all about inspiration. I love it when inspiration hits. My muse can be a real witch at time but when she is on the ball she is amazing.

Charli Mac said...

With one MS under my belt, it took me a year to complete but swam in me head for ten, that music inspires me. When I first thought of the idea of Grace and Miguel it was always with her as the smothered little sister and he the only child, the kid she grew up with. But the story actually started out as a thriller. Her a cop and he a doctor. Over the years I'd scribble but nothing serious.

A few years back I was sitting on the train listening to Dave Matthews' Grey Street, Live a Piedmont Park version, and I kept thinking.... the girl in the song was so sad. How does a person get that sad? How does she come out of it? Grace and Miguel morphed into something totally different.

Then last summer, much around this time of year, I watched the Ed Burns movie, Purple Violets. It was about writers and it made me sit down and type my heart out. And I did, the rest is aspiring writers history.

Tabitha Blake said...

It is amazing what inspires us. With Craigen My Immortal is perfect. He carries so much hurt around everyday. He drank most of it away but now that he isn't drinking it is all crashing down around him. He lost the love of his life and felt responsible. I feel sorry for him but I love a wounded hero. I will make sure he gets his HAE! All our wounded characters deserve it. Glad you enjoyed the blog.