Today’s blog challenge’s theme is character inspiration.
I’ve mentioned before (once or a million times) that I am a pantser. That goes for pretty much everything when it comes to writing. And it certainly applies to the creation of characters. I normally start with a vague idea of what my MCs are going to look and be like, and then allow them to tell me who they really are. I admire writers who will sit down and complete character profiles before writing a single word down. I really do. I have tried to do that and it was not pretty. Not only the characters all end up being a lot like me, but as I write the story the list always ends up forgotten and neglected.
I will give you a few examples of my process (all very scientific). When I was writing the novel I just finished, “Loved You Always“, I started with the two main characters, Em and Jem. Jem had a boyish charm, blue eyes, and dark-ish curly hair (I was basing it off the picture below) and Em was in love with him. Nothing else. But as I started writing the first chapter their personalities began talking to me. Em was an always-think-twice kind of girl, Jem was the impulsive one. Em loved gourmet food, Jem loved junk food. Eventually even their physical attributes changed. Em became an Asian-American and Jem…well he remained the boyish charmer. Another surprising thing that happened was their sidekicks, Em’s sister and her witch friend. These were totally unplanned and I have to say, I love them. I may even write a whole novel about them.
In “Desert Jewel” I wanted characters that were almost a total opposite of each other both in terms of their physical appearance and also their background and experiences. Jaali was based (physically) on a comic character I found online, but ended up having an actual human form. Milenda was based on another picture I saw online which I found intriguing. He is white with platinum hair and blue eyes, Milenda is black with bright green eyes and unusual skin markings alongside her neck and shoulder. Jaali is an ex-slave, Milenda is an heiress to the throne.
My current WIP, “Predators” also started with sketchy character profiles. I actually started with a headless picture of a girl (no, the girl was not headless, the picture was) and the objects she had in her hands; a gas mask, a gun and bloody knees. Jia (the girl) crosses path with Cees, a young man from another social caste. They are both running from (you guessed) the Predators. Just a couple days ago they started talking to me and they now have a complex past history, and an equally complex sidekick.
I love creating characters and watching them grow, sometimes in spite of myself. Having traveled and lived in many different parts of the world, I love creating multicultural characters that challenge my view of the world and force me into looking at things through a different lens. More than anything else in the creative process–more than the plot, the action, the setting–the characters keep me excited about the story, keeping me guessing and keeping me on my toes.