C is for Characters


This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

Characters.  They’re everywhere.  At the grocery store.  In the park.  At school.  You even have them as your friends…and family.  No one is off-limits, including you, especially to an author.

Writers are always looking for new fodder for their next project.  One common question people ask writers is, “Where do you find inspiration for your characters?”  For me, I’d have to answer, “From you, and the person sitting next to you.  The grocery clerk and the librarian.  The elephant trainer, the executive.”  It’s true.  We are all unique, interesting individuals.  No two of us are exactly the same, which makes each of us the perfect ‘playground’ for authors.

I love creating characters.  I have a notebook of character traits I’ve gathered from watching people and listening to them.  I have conversations written down with an estimation of the age of the person(s) speaking so I can fit the right dialogue with the right character.  I love having an idea for a character, thumbing through my notes picking this trait and that trait, then putting them all together to make a unique person.  Take Charlotte Stine, my female secondary character in my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King.

Charlotte was born on April Fools Day but there’s nothing April Foolish about her.  She has waist-length dark brown hair, a turned up nose and a round face.  She has a scar across the back of her ankle where she caught her foot in the spokes of her bicycle when she was six.  It took 65 stitches to put her back together.  Her parents didn’t think she’d ever be able to participate in sports.  Charlotte proved them wrong.

Currently, she’s 16, almost 17, and excels in gymnastics and dance.  Her favorite subject is biology and she hates math.  She plays the oboe, clarinet and piano and prefers classical music over top 40 or rap.

She has no problem speaking her mind to others and is always on David’s (the MC) back to stand up for himself and assert his opinions.  She is respectful of her parents and tends to not create waves with them, especially her dad.  He’s a retired Air Force captain with top-secret clearance at the nearby Air Force base.

She is squeamish at the sight of blood and passes out.  Her favorite meal is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Her least favorite:  shrimp.  She is allergic to lemons and breaks out in hives if she encounters even the peels.  She plays with her hair when nervous and is terrified of cockroaches, beetles (except ladybugs) and any other large, crunchy insect.  She despises war.  Her brother, Daniel, died fighting in a war she felt was unnecessary and senseless.  She is way too trusting and impulsive and tends to blame others for allowing her to act irresponsibly.  Her best friend in the world is David (the MC).  She doesn’t have a lot of friends at school because she can’t stand the hypocrisy and two-facedness of girls her age.

She’s adventurous and energetic, pioneering and courageous, enthusiastic and confident, dynamic and quick-witted.  On the other end, she can be selfish and quick-tempered, impulsive and impatient, foolhardy and a daredevil.  Her nature is to push or be pushed. There is no middle ground.  She likes challenges that stir people into action, and gets irritated when others don’t see her clear vision.  Even with her aggressiveness, she is still very much a lamb.  She would much prefer attaining her goals by gently giving in without resistance to the demands of a given situation, rather than by getting entangled in something larger and more powerful than herself.  This takes patience, which is something Charlotte doesn’t have.  Too bad she has to learn it at the mercy of a dragon.

Who is your favorite character and why?

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17 thoughts on “C is for Characters

  1. Great character!! My favorite so far is my hero for the wip I’m doing revisions for: Thomas. He just “flows” so easy for me. It’s almost like he’s sitting beside me, telling me his story…

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    1. I’m glad you came by too, and hope you revisit. Nice to meet you and have you wandering about.

      If your daughter is anything like Charlotte, she’s amazing! 🙂

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  2. You’re right about characters and how you find them everywhere: just look! I once did some dialogue exercises where you sit, say at a table alone in a coffee shop, and LISTEN in to conversations around you. Hone in on one set and take notes. With pad and pen in hand I jotted down what I overheard. It was an amazing practice at getting down the cadences, lingo, slang, etc. of how people really talk. I highly recommend it. My dialogue teacher gave us this ‘homework’. She was awesome and studied acting with Stella Adler in NY. Happy observing! Love MoonWynd

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  3. You really went in-depth with Charlotte! Wonderful character! How funny that she likes biology, but detest blood and insects, which are the most likely things she’d encounter in a biology class!

    I’ve grown attached to so many characters I created, but yet I like to make bad things happen to them. 😉

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

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  4. LOL — We are such an iniquitous brood, we writers. No one is safe! I, too, can spend hours simply people watching. I prefer to think of it as reconnoitering, rather than spying 🙂 “I’ll take his penchant for toothpicks and her ability to express disgust without every saying a word.” We glean so much by watching others interact, or simply observing them in their natural state. Unbeknownst, there are eyes carefully plotting out their next characters, using their traits and appearance for material.

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  5. Charlotte sounds amazing and full of layers 😀 you are so right about finding inspiration for characters everywhere…sometimes I feel like I should tell the stranger next to me: you are going to be in my next novel…

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    1. Aww, thanks! I loved creating her. She’s great and i have tons of fun with her, especially putting her in dangerous situations she doesn’t think she can get out of.

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