This month's topic is how do you create your characters--their quirks, habits, values, and what part they will play in the story, etc.? Do you have a process, or do they come to you instinctively?
Generally, ideas about my characters start when I'm just thinking about a new story's plot. Once the story's idea is in place, then only the main characters get established with backgrounds, although sometimes they just appear. Being developed from my mind means my process may have an instinctive basis. Yet, based on the plot, many of the problems they will face have already evolved. Once this background is established, I start looking at the characters and try to add the essences that make them different.
We all have different quirks, habits, and values. Some are due to our genetics, and some come from how we were raised and the many different experiences we have enjoyed or endured. With each of my characters, I develop a background based on both the good and bad experiences in their past and how these have affected them.
This doesn’t seem to be a set-in-stone process. Stories change, and as they evolve this often changes the characters, too.
Most writers have a good understanding of people and how they differ, but creating a character also involves much imagination. However, keeping our knowledge of the real people in our lives out of our stories is an important principle in writing. So is borrowing characters from stories we’ve read
Of course, the pleasure of a series of novels is that the characters are already somewhat developed, but that doesn't mean they can't change somewhat in attitude, beliefs, and commitments. For me, they seem like friends.
Check out more posts on this topic with the following writers: