Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Creating Memorable Characters

How do authors come up with some of those crazy colorful characters in their books?

Is it their imagination? No, it's their observation!

Why create a new character, when you are surrounded by real characters? LOL.

For example...

Jacob, who prefers to be called Chocolate (a self determined nickname), loves pink. He wears pink braces on his teeth, pink shirts to school, and pink pajamas to bed. If anyone makes a smart-alec comment about his fondness for pink, Jacob will pause to look them directly in the eye, and then say, "Hey, not everyone can do pink, but I am completely secure with my manhood." At which point, the smart-alec usually replies with, "Huh..." and walks away. Jacob makes friends everywhere he goes. Why? Because he's not afraid to be happy. At the Rec Center, he runs up the two flights of stairs and jumps high at the top. He does a spread eagle, landing with both arms in the air and sings, "Tah-Dah!"  He's okay with the fact that all the parents sitting just a few feet away watching their toddlers' gymnastics class turn their heads with a "What the... heck?" kind of look on their faces. He's happy.

He'd make a great character for a book... and luckily for me, I can observe him on a daily basis. If you look closely at the picture above, you will see not only his pink braces peeking out, but also his pink pajamas buried under the chocolate.

Have you read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich? Talk about some colorful characters!!

"All writers are people watchers," Janet explains in How I Write. "If you want characters that ring true, take a really close look at the people around you: that buttoned-up old lady on the train as well as the girl with fourteen facial piercings who hangs out at your local coffeehouse" (page 5).

Do you associate with a real character on a daily basis? Who?

1 comment:

  1. Janet's totally right when she talks about characters ringing true. I think the best characters are based on real people. Humor is funny when there's a ring of truth to it, and characters are no different.

    It's like when you write what you know, the words come a bit easier and the stories seem more real--because they are real. I love the scene at the end of Anne of Green Gables (the film) when Anne is showing Gilbert her book and she talks about how it's just a series of vignettes she wrote about Avonlea, but it's hers. And, it's at the end of Little Women when Jo stops forcing her stories and finally writes about her sisters and their lives that she finally gets published.

    And, I live down the street from a real character! I love her to bits. ;) And all three of her kids would make great book characters.