Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Playing Frankenstein

Over at Manuscript Mavens, Lacey wrote a post about how she comes up with her characters. In the comments there, I told her my method, but I thought I'd expand on it here.

I play Frankenstein. :insert evil laugh here:

I take pieces from everyone I've ever met - including family, friends, and myself - add in bits of other fictional people I've encountered (from TV, movies, books, stories, etc.), stir vigorously and out pop my characters.

For instance, in Blink, one of the characters is modeled after my maternal grandfather, but since he died when I was ten, the character has his physical traits while his personality is gleaned from a combination of several older men I've known. In Redemption, the MC's fiance is modeled after one of my ex-boyfriends - except for the physical, which I just threw together. For ARJ, almost all of the minor characters are based on people I know, but I've mashed them all together to such a degree, the only person who be able to recognize who's who is me. (One case, for instance, I took a couple and switched their personalities - he's boisterous, she's shy - and even that wasn't enough, so I amplified them both until he came out a mouse and she came out pure bitch.)

It's fun to play doctor. Heh. And on the bright side, my creations won't rise up and try to destroy me.

Of course, this method doesn't give me every character nor every trait even for the ones it does give me. The rest is part of the magic of being a writer. Stuff dribbles out of my conscious and subconscious to form the entirety of a character. (Which is good, because I never want to have to use that clause at the beginning of a book - you know the one. The "Any similarity to anyone real is purely coincidental" one.)

How do you come up with fresh characters? What's cooking in your lab today?


lacey kaye said...

I was going to say this at the MM blog but I'll say it here -- yes! I do this, too. I think taking those types of quirks and then giving them to your character creates a character who is an actor, if that makes sense.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Ahhh! I see! I'm not quick on the uptake today, but I see what you're saying now. =o)