Saturday, July 30, 2022

Where Do Characters Come From? What Happens to Them?

We have a number of related topics to choose from this month: the inspiration behind our characters, characters we have just killed off, our characters' names, or aspects about our characters that were cut from the story. Also included were deleted scenes and characters who didn't make it into the story.

Ideas on Characters:

All stories have to have characters, human or not, or there can be no story as dialogue and action have to come from someone's viewpoint. Many books have had animals as characters, like the story of Bambi (not the 1942 movie versions, but the original 1928 translation of the Austrian version written by Felix Salten), or the story of Black Beauty. And, of course, many fantasy and science fiction novels have non-human, human-like characters.

But where do my characters come from? I'd have to say my imagination, although I will admit my mind sometimes works behind closed doors. I remember a long-time ago, before I started writing, I was having repeated dreams about someone I'd never met in real life. She inspired me to begin a story. During the writing, she changed and evolved into a somewhat different person-character than the dream one, who has never visited me again. 

Sometimes ideas for stories occur first, either from imagination or occasional contemplation of problems. I might understand what I want a character to be like in a story, but before they can come into being, they have to have a name, which I imagine makes them individuals in my mind. So in those instances, I know a character's personality before I met them, but once I know them by name, they often change. I've written about character names before and where they come from, and why some names can never be used--which is part of the selection process. I've also written a post about evil characters and how I name them.  

Character's death:

I've never had a major character die, but some minor ones have; mostly this shows the effect on the main character. The story often continues with how the main character moves on from this devastation. I've also read stories where the ghost of a previous character haunts the main character. That also can prove interesting. I will say that in one of my books a minor character who died is shown alive in another time warp of the story's universe. 

Deleting Characters and Scenes:

Writing is time-consuming and sometimes arduous. Cutting a scene is difficult, but I've done it because the scene did nothing for the story. I cannot remember ever cutting a character from a story. 

Visit the following sites for more perspectives on these topics.

·         Skye Taylor 

·         Marci Baun  

·         Helena Fairfax 

·         Dr. Bob Rich 

·         Anne Stenhouse   

·          Judith Copek 


  1. Totally agree, scenes and characters that don't move a story forward need to go no matter how much time we spent on them or how much we like them. But we can cut and paste to an auxiliary file. You never know when one of those scenes or characters will turn out to be exactly what we needed in a different story.

    1. Robyn - this comment was from Skye but for some reason no matter how many times I log in it just keeps reverting to anonymous

    2. Yes Skye, it is Google's fault. Same happens to me if I use Firefox, which I do because Google Chrome is approximately intolerable with its "identities." So, just for our round robins, I open Chrome. Then, I can at least post as one of my "identities," though not the one I'd prefer. If I change, then it bites me in the posterior next time I organize an online meeting.

  2. Rhobin, I know where your characters come from. Like that lady in your dream, they, even your nonhuman ones, are distillations of many lifetimes' experience.