I suppose that isn’t suprising. As a reader, I think characters are my favourite aspect of a story as well. Sure, I might initially get sucked in by an interesting premise, or the promise of some sort of exciting revelation, but ultimately it’s the characters that keep me hooked.
That applies just as much for writing. The aspect of writing I get the most joy out of is writing characters. I love putting them into situations and seeing how they respond. I love sticking them into a scene together and observing how they react to each other. No matter how good (in my opinion) my story ideas are, it’s the characters that keep me interested in the writing.
To me, the aspect of character is so important that when I’m planning a story, once I have the basic idea, most of my time is working out who the characters are. I figure that once I have that sorted, the outline of the plot will come naturally.
People often ask me where I get my character ideas from. After all, I suppose I have some pretty strange ones. I guess some of them are obvious. I’m not going to deny that character types in Magnus Opum, such as the Kertoobis, Cherines and Glurgs are totally derived from Tolkien’s Hobbits, Elves and Orcs.
But what about some of the others? What about the Doosies, the incorrigible gossips with ears on the back of their heads but only one eye. What about the permanently energised Pharsheeth, or the Great Oponium? These characters are much less Tolkien and much more me.
And what about some of my other stories? What about the constantly bickering Flidderbug tribes, or the assortment of strange people Neville Lansdowne meets in his adventures, like the Toaster People or the Aimless Girl or the Shouting Man? Where do they come from?
People seem to assume I have a very strong imagination. Perhaps they’re right – I’m not sure if I’m the one to judge. I know that often the inspiration doesn’t come from so far away.
It’s mostly just from viewing people. Being with them. Listening to what they say. Seeing them on TV or reading about them in the news. There’s one basic thing I take away from it all.
People are bonkers.
And once you’ve figured that out, coming up with strange and unexpected characters is not that difficult. To be honest, I don’t think my characters are anywhere near as odd as a good proportion of the people I encounter. The sheer bonkersness of most people is beyond what I could ever capture as a writer.
Of course, that doesn’t apply to me. And I’m sure it doesn’t apply to you either. Have a great (and not too bonkers) week.
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