Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inklings: Characters, the Actors in Your Story

Editor's note: Here's a post from yesterday that appeared on my other blog. I'm posting it again here, because I have decided to publish most of my posts on this blog. Oh, by the way, the new url for this site is www.deliverers.net. Your old bookmark will take you to this site automatically, so there's no need to update anything.

Once you've got an idea for your story, and you've captured some information about it in your journal, you'll need to develop some characters. These are the individuals who will act out your story. I am often asked where my characters come from. There's no easy answer. A character could come to you at any time, from anywhere.

It's rather an exciting thought, really. You never know when one will pop up. Sometimes, a character will lead to an idea for a story. This is what happened in the case of my fantasy series, The Deliverers. Stig, a talking owl, was a character in some short stories I'd written. It was when I decided to find out just who he was and where he came from that I got the idea for The Deliverers.

Other times, you might have an idea for an adventure, but have no real idea who will be taking part. So, where do those characters come from?  Part of being a writer is observing the world. You do it every day, although you might not realize it.

You meet all sorts of people during your day. Some are funny, some are quiet, some are smart, some mysterious. Others are creepy. When you notice someone interesting, pull out your journal and capture what was so interesting about them by writing it down. Maybe it was something they did or said. Later, when you get a chance, go back to your journal and flesh out that character by adding other little details. If he/she was funny, how did they get that way, what other traits might they have? Where are they from? Are they human or are they something else?

You'll find that you can build an entire personality from one or two bits of information. It can spark your imagination and voila--you've got the start of a living, breathing character. Over time, as you give them things to do within your story, they'll grow and change--sometimes in ways you don't expect. That's what's so fun about creating characters--the actors in your story. Give it a try.

What are your favorite characters? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!


  1. What a wonderful post! My bookmark took me right here- so it worked!

    It was great to hear your thoughts on finding characters all around us. I agree! I love to pick up bits of people for my character files. :)

    I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and so many of his friends. I feel like I know them.

    1. Great Stephanie, I'm glad it worked.

      Harry Potter & friends are great characters. I'd love to spend some time with Harry, Ron and Hermione myself!