Thursday, February 10, 2011

Characters

So, how do these strange people come into existence?

Some people say that they burst into their minds, demanding that their story be told. Others have carefully crafted their characters to fit into the plot. But this, of course doesn't speak for everyone. There are undoubtedly endless ways for characters to be created. Maybe he or she started as a mere notion of a person, just knowing that they really liked dogs or something. Or maybe you saw some random person and liked the way they looked or acted and wanted a character that mirrored that, and so started to work on this character, possibly without even a story in mind.

To me, I believe that characters are wonderful, sometimes strange things. They are moldable, but not overly so. They are undoubtably their own person and cannot be overly changed into you're ideal character because you simply can't. Just like you can't just change the way your next door neighbor is like.

And as for how I create them, well, I think that's putting it too strongly, cause it doesn't often feel like I created them. Sometimes, it's the character that comes to me first, I get a feeling of what they're like, what their background and circumstances are and a vague notion of what their story (plot) might be. Like they are a person I am just getting to know. But for some reason, the characters that come to me this way are the ones that are jotted down in a journal and then forgotten about.

But then there are the other characters. These ones are birthed from the idea of a plot or world I have been thinking about. It almost feels like the character is coming to me, saying that he is the character in that story I've been thinking about. These are the characters whose stories get written, unlike the others.

But even then, sometimes it's wrong. Sometimes, it seems like I'm forcing my character to be someone they're not. This makes them very hard to write. And as I stop and start writing these stories it's like they reveal themselves more and more before they finally become who they were supposed to be all along, not the image I had in the beginning, but something totally different and unexpected. For some reason I fight this sometimes, believing that if I change the characters attitude or opinion to something else they just won't be who they were supposed to be. In these instances, I'm usually always wrong.

But these characters, even though they were born from the story and world, these stories are hugely character driven. The story simply wouldn't work if that character was replaced with someone else or if any one thing about them were changed. In these stories the character is equally as important (sometimes more so) as the plot.

So, how are your characters created? Do the characters influence you're stories or the other way around? Are they closer to people or tools in your eyes?

3 comments:

Misha said...

My characters walk into my head fully formed and hi-jack the story I'm writing.

There is no misconception that i am in control.

;-)

Erin said...

Great post - I like the part you said about how the characters feel like someone you're just getting to know. That's a perfect way to put it!

One of my characters recently came to me while I was taking a shower. I wasn't sure what to think about that, but I like the character, so I'll keep him. =)

Quitting My Day Job

Book Owl said...

Misha- Haha :D Your characters sound like they get right down to business without delay!

Erin- It was the only way I could think to explain it, i thought it was fitting :)

Characters have a strange habit to appear in the most questionable of places, yes?

;)