Without the characters, we wouldn’t have a story. It doesn’t matter who the characters are, whether they’re human, animal, or even nature, time, or death, every story has some. After all, we journey with the character as they struggle and achieve or fail. That’s what ultimately makes a story good.
So, where do we begin? Really, anywhere we want. Sound advice is to write what you know. Your first story can include a character much like yourself. I know there’s a lot of me in the main character of my Young Adult novel. That’s great in some cases, but not always right for the story.
For instance, my romance novel is not written from her perspective, but from his. Sure, there’s a lot of me in her character, too, but not in his. So, who is he? Well, he’s a bit of a mix. I took elements of some of my favourite characters from books, games, and movies, and blended them up. I had to make sure he felt like a real person, so what I blended had to make a whole person and not just a puzzle pieced together in human shape.
Where else can we get ideas? How about other people we know? Children, loved ones, friends, teachers, people we admire or love to hate? Even pets can have a quirky trait that we can work with and base someone on. In short, inspiration is everywhere.
One example is in my YA novel. The main character has a pony companion. I know ponies very well. I have a few and have ridden many over a couple of decades. I based the novel pony on two of my actual ponies, to create a blend perfect for her character.
Inspiration is everywhere. Get to know your characters. Take a little time and think about them. What do they like and dislike? Did they have an easy childhood, or do they struggle with bad memories? What foods do they like? How do they dress? Do they like to read? Even if this stuff never makes it into the story, it can make the difference between a complete person for a character, and a character that feels flat.
Get brainstorming. Figure out who they are. Only then will you know how they react to their environment and situations you place them in. Happy writing!
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.