30 days of writing, day 9

perfect cup of coffee by e_mily Master post.

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

For me, character=plot and plot=character, so the question of character starts with the story — “This story is about a guy who…” does whatever it is that the character does. Then I have to figure out the age, the background (ethnic, geographical, educational) and the name, all of which influence each other. The name is one of the more important bits of characterization for me, but that’s mostly because I’m obsessed with names. Like I said before, I’ll make lists of names and try them out in different combinations to see what works. (Though sometimes a character will name himself. Delaney in Eight of Wands informed me of his name quite out of the blue.)

Then comes fantasy-casting. Yes, I choose actors or models or musicians for pretty much all of my characters, or at least the main ones. It helps solidify things like personality and looks. An celebrity’s persona can be very helpful at times, too. (Some of my fantasy casting is totally obvious, I think. But otherwise it’s just for me.)

Then I figure out things like how they talk (do they use nicknames? do they use slang? is everything they say grammatically correct?) and what they wear (jeans and silly t-shirts? suits?) and what they do for a living — and if I can write about that believably (there’s a reason I’ve yet to write about cowboys but write a lot about artists and nerds) — and at some point in all this, start writing.

Things will change in writing, of course, and the truth about that is I love it when that happens, when a character surprises me. But the hardest part during the writing, really, is keeping them consistent throughout; or if there’s a major change of heart, making it believable and organic. “Suddenly he changed his mind” is frustrating for the reader, and we dun want that.

Mirrored from Jenna Jones.com.

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