The Art Of Creating A Person

As usual, a Kate Colby observation got me thinking:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

We often don’t reflect on it systematically, but writing characters is a big responsibility: an author has the final say over everything about them.

The ultimate aim (for me) is eventually to be able to write someone whose personality and actions flow with a “real-life” feel. The character should be as unpredictable as we actual people can be. He/she should also be as occasionally blandly predictable in ways all of us are as well.

Above all, we’ve all based every character on individuals we know or have known. Even if we don’t want to, we will invariably find ourselves mining living, or once living, people as a basis. I firmly believe any writer who asserts some character is based on “no one” is not being honest….

Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

….because conjuring up someone entirely from “no one” is to my mind close to, if not, impossible. Even if the character is not meant to be based on someone, without us even realizing it someone, or several someones, provided inspirations. Due to the infinite twists and turns and complexities of our mind, that’s unavoidable.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a silhouette of a man looking out at skyscrapers.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a silhouette of a man looking out at skyscrapers.

I sign off for this post hoping you’re having a good day, wherever you are.

I also hope you are surrounded by people you might well draw upon as excellent fictionalized characters at some point in years to come. No matter what, though, uh, NEVER tell them that. 😉

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Author: “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.

2 thoughts on “The Art Of Creating A Person

  1. I agree. We don’t just give fictitious names to our eccentric friends and relations, and then document their dysfunctional lives. But we do disassemble those personalities and personal histories, shake up the pieces, pull some out, put them together – and then write about it! I blogged in more detail about this topic in my post, “You Couldn’t Make It Up”: http://wp.me/p30cCH-1kO

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  2. Agreed. The best characters have both admirable qualities and flaws, as well as the ability to shock you and the ability to make you roll your eyes or holler at the page.

    Thanks for the mention, by the way!

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