Character building

22 Jun

charactersWhen writing characters  – those that do – how do you start?

Is it with someone in your mind, someone you know, or may have met in the past?

Do you build a character around a particular hair colour maybe, or a quirk you want them to have? A tick, habit or catchphrase maybe?

I recently wrote a short story, which turned out to be part of a longer one, and managed to incorporate a character I have been dying to write about for ages. It just happens to be someone I come in to contact with every now and then and I just knew he would make a fascinating character. For no other reason than I found him interesting – his looks, his mannerisms (especially those) and the whole way he held himself.

I wonder, do other writers do that too? Do you meet someone and immediately you know you will write about them. Maybe not straight away, but you’ll store the details away for later. Keeping them in that pocket of your brain reserved for such things.

Of course, if any of us do admit that yes, we are guilty of this then we are really letting the cat out of the bag aren’t we? It’s a occupational hazard already isn’t it? Friends, family, people we barely know recognising themselves in our stories. Although from what I’ve heard, they often get it wrong.

Oh, and another funny point. It seems few mean or unlikeable characters are recognised by the people who they are actually ‘loosely based on’. FACT.

That’s not a fact at all, but I bet it’s true.

Whatever you admit to and however you build your characters, they are the key to good read aren’t they? I was given some great advice by a former tutor who said to build character you have to really know them. That you should ‘live with your character.’ Know what they eat and drink, what they watch on tv, who they like and dislike, where they live, where they come from, what makes them tick, what pisses them off. Go to bed with them and wake up with them in the morning (in your head that is)  he advised. I agree, for me, I have to know the why before I know the what of my character. I need to know exactly what they are about before they go about anything.

How about you?

One Response to “Character building”

  1. zx69Pamela June 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Congratulations on making me think – how do I create my characters? I believe I find myself building them as I go along, but the real core of my characters are based upon their state of mind, their beliefs and backgrounds. I have to know when and where they were born and the first trauma in their life. ~Weird or what?

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