I’m an emotive writer. I don’t mean I start crying over words on a page. I mean that people and events that have touched me personally will more than likely show up in my work somewhere. It’s not due to lack of imagination; I just use my own experiences as a base to create characters, scenes, and plots.
For characters, this is nothing new. Actors use this method to create the right emotion to react to a stimuli. So do songwriters: every sad song ever written came from at least one broken heart. The good news is that in writing you have a lot more freedom because you’re doing it on your own.
Think about your best friend. What do you like and dislike about him/her? Heighten it. If they’re a neat freak, make your character obsessively neat. If your friend “plays the field”, have your character’s cell phone constantly ringing. If your friend obsesses about their weight, give your character a laxative addiction. And then examine these traits to varying degrees.
I’m not suggesting you create a cast of obsessive-compulsives. I’m only suggesting this method as a starting point to build your characters on. Suggestions like those above don’t even have to be the strongest character traits; just little subtleties to give your them new dimensions and motivations.
I find it works for me. And that’s why I love my characters so much.
So, if I know you personally, thanks for the inspiration, however I portrayed you. Not that I’ll ever tell.
Next: Personalizing Events, Personal Therapy
Richard Todd is an author, blogger, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.