Sometimes, in reference to a character in one of my books, a reader will ask, “Was that about you?”
It’s an interesting question but with an unclear answer.
Sure, there’s a little bit in me in all of my characters. I think most writers could make the same claim. And why is this? Because as writers we know enough about ourselves to share our best and worst traits in our work. It’s also because as writers we never go out.
The challenge, however, is to be able to take on different personas to keep characters as individual as humanly possible. This goes for everything from back story to physical appearance to, most importantly, dialogue. Unless you’re of multiple personalities, you run the risk of giving your characters the same voice.
Last time we discussed taking acting classes to overcome this. Another method would be to augment your characters with the personalities of people you know.
I’ve met a lot of people over the years, some of which are so bizarre that no writer could ever dream them up! But a writer could be inspired by their speech patterns, their dress, or those other peculiar little nuances that make them so unforgettable. Even their seemingly harmless habits can help you.
For example, you must know someone who has an obsession with their handheld device. Give that trait to a character and build on it. What does their obsession tell you about them? That they’re easily distracted? Inattentive? Insecure? Paranoid? And then think about what may have caused them to have that trait. Perhaps they had a negative family life. Or they’re doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. Or they’ve lost people close to them so they’re afraid to lose touch.
Voila! You’re on your way to a well-rounded character.
If know me personally, chances are a little piece of you has been or will be the inspiration for a character in my universe. Take it as a compliment; you’ve left an indelible impression on me.
Even if the character turns out to be evil, I’m using you as a blueprint for their humanity, not for their deeds.
But to protect our friendship, I think I’ll keep the truth to myself. People in my fictional universe are usually destined towards grisly ends. It’s nothing personal. If I like you I might even kill the character with a little more love than usual.
Anything for friendship.
If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!
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.