Characters are an integral part of every writer's arsenal. They are the life of the story; literally. Today is about creation of those characters.
Here is how I dream up my characters: I meet people and I read books about people. That seems too simple, huh? Well, it is a little more complicated than that. Surely you didn't think you were going to get off that easily! Come on, this is a learning experience! Dive in and have some fun with it!
A character is made up of TWO parts: 1. Physical appearance 2. Personality
I will go through some characters I have used in stories and tell you where they came from.
Yassa - Temujin (Genghis Khan), Borte, and Kutula
Temujin comes from history. I read everything I could get my hands on about this kid and the man he became. History told me a lot but to fill in what it was lacking, I had to pull characteristics from people I know and myself. Because there aren't photographs of young Temujin or old Genghis floating around (they didn't exactly have cameras in the twelfth century) I had to make up what they looked like based on rough paintings. Because I didn't meet the man, I have no idea what his character was like. I can only guess based on how he behaved and what he accomplished.
Ditto for Borte and Kutula.
Now, Kutula didn't actually exist, as far as I know, but he was a minor character in the beginning who demanded that he be put into the story. Because he provided a break from monotony and a little comic relief, I left him in there and let him run wild.
Temujin is quirky and does things sometimes that no one can see the worth in until later; these traits come from me. He is proud, brave, protective, vengeful, honorable, and loyal as well; these come from my boyfriend. His physical appearance was based on text I read about the people of Mongolia as a whole, though I did make some allotments to suit myself. After all, he is supposed to be a bit of a dream guy.
Borte is demure, wise, beautiful, and fiercely loyal; these come from characters I have known in books. She's kind of a mishmash of what I would want in a partner if I were a mighty conqueror of continents. Ha! She has her flaws and those I have pulled from myself. She tries to fix everything and has a harsh tongue at times. She can be bitchy and her mind is very fragile. You'll see that during the course of the story and you'll see what fixes her insanity as well. I made the decision to make her look as different as possible from other women in Mongolia because she is supposed to be a rare treasure that is coveted. She had to stand out from the crowd and inspire men to do great things in her name.
Kutula is a male concubine who has aspirations of grandeur and is very very clever. He is a very beautiful man who is willing to help another if they are kind to him or if he sees something in them that is good. I imagined him as the quiet type who is very deadly. His fun side comes from me and how I really enjoy tumbling through fields of flowers and bright colors. Okay, that was a joke. His fun side I got from my daughter. She is disarming, gentle, enjoys life, and is in love with everything colorful. His looks I based on gay men I have known and are kind of a mishmash of all of them in one glowingly lovable character.
I don't keep a journal of interesting traits or interesting people I meet because if I find them interesting enough I will remember them.
Little Abigale, of The Abigale Chronicles, is fully based on me as a child. She is unassuming, honest, and loves adventure.
If you missed the giveaway of the book, stay tuned! I will be giving a deep promotional discount when Yassa releases in June!
I hope this post got you thinking about making your characters round. A flat character, while they will get you through the story, will not make a reader want to turn the page. Your protagonist must have flaws, they must go through change (post on that tomorrow), and they absolutely must have some trait that people will fall head over heels in love with. Otherwise, they are boring and people will fall asleep when they try to read your book.
I'd love to hear about some of your characters and where you got the idea for them. Pop a little comment in below!
9am and time to get to work!!
Until next time, WRITE ON!!