30 Days of Writing–Day 9: Character Development

The Vampire

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Day 9 and not a question I feel all that qualified to answer in an insightful manner.  But I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

This chicken and egg type question had me stumped because don’t think of characters independent of their  stories.  My first thoughts are to create the story which in turn shapes the character(s) needed to tell it.  That may be bass-ackwards for many, but not for me.

Most of my stories start with a “what if” scenario.  Let’s look at Dori in My Fair Vampire as an example.  That novel started off as a piece of flash fiction, produced in less than ninety minutes as my take on the theme word “impossible”.  My impossible tale was “what if you had a vampire who formed an attachment to her mortal enemy?”  That would certainly be an impossible situation so how could the lovers overcome it?  What if the vampire was still in training but not quite getting the hang of her new life as a vampire?  What if her would-be lover was the same?  I envisioned a baby lion playing with a baby lamb (ugh, I did not intend to mimic or mock Twilight with that analogy; please forgive me for leaving it intact though, because it works)–neither knows they are mortal enemies at that tender age.

Working backward, I wondered first:  Why was Dori not catching on?  Was she stupid?  (Answer = No.  My characters are never stupid.  Period.)  Was there something organically preventing her from picking up the necessary survival skills?  Bingo.  Maybe she wasn’t all human to begin with; maybe certain paranormal creatures have innate characteristics that are incompatible with vampirism.

Question two:  Why would Dori be attracted to a hunter in the first place?  Was she so starved for affection that she welcomed it even from a sworn enemy?  Bingo again.  Why was she starved for affection?  Bad home life / childhood?  Difficulties cause by her other paranormal abilities?

I repeated this process for each character, backing up from the primary story a bit more each time until I had a fleshed out profiles and histories of who the main characters were.

I have no idea if this is how most writers create characters or if most develop a character first then place them into a story.  Were I to be asked to write a second book about Dori, I believe I could do it because having finished the first, I see many other tangents her story could take.  That would be my first attempt to build a novel around a well-developed character, something I’ve not yet done but hopefully will do one day.  Those sequels aren’t clamoring for my attention, however, because I have a notebook full of other tales  singing like sirens to give them a chance to live and breathe, they and their tellers, whomever they may be.

(As a completely unrelated aside, I’m loving WordPress’s recommended media gallery and recommended links, all context driven.)

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2 thoughts on “30 Days of Writing–Day 9: Character Development

  1. Chicken and egg…. now I’m getting hungry. That or laughing because you chose THAT analogy and then described Dori. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Hahaha! 🙂 Of course NO ONE but you and I get that joke, but hey … s’ok! 🙂

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