Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creating Characters

This week’s topic really made me think – because I wasn’t sure just how I do create characters!

I don’t analyse them beforehand, I simply put them into a situation and see what happens! As soon as the idea for a story begins to take shape in my mind, the main characters are also there. To start with, I don’t know much about them and sometimes I struggle to find their names. Soon, however, even when I’m still thinking about the story, they start to come alive for me. I can see them in my mind’s eye. Once I start writing, I can hear their voices, and I know what they’re thinking and feeling.

They are purely my own imagination but they become as real to me to any real-life people. I don’t base them on anyone I’ve actually seen although sometimes I can see someone on TV and think, ‘Yes, he’s how I imagine Paul’ or, as happened recently, I saw a girl singing a Lloyd Webber song, and immediately thought, ‘That’s Jess.’ She looked just like I had imagined Jess.

This happens with the minor characters just as much as with the hero and heroine. I can visualise them all and it’s as clear as if I was watching and hearing them in a movie.

Their characters evolve as I write. Half the time, I don’t actually think about it, it just happens, mainly because I become so immersed in their thoughts and feelings. I empathise with the heroine and fall in love with the hero. Sometimes they surprise me but I love those moments when they reveal something about themselves that I didn’t actually know beforehand!

By the end of the story, I can see how they have grown. Maybe they've learnt more about themselves and/or about each other, or understood why and how they had made mistakes and made an effort to put things right – the possibilities are endless and their growth depends very much on the story itself.

I am a total ‘pantser’ and write by instinct rather than by planning. I rely on my characters to take me through their story, and I enjoy the journey with them!

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