Thursday, January 31, 2008

Character Confessions (Or, Where I Dig up My Characters)

Tip of the Day: Save copies of your book in several different places. You also might want to e-mail it to yourself just to have it in your inbox as well.

Characters are always one of the best parts of books. We like to identify with them, sympathize with them etc. Your characters may make or break your book. If you have a really sucky main character but a great plot people might not want to read it because they don’t feel for your character. So, how do you come up with your characters? Last week I confessed that I sometimes like to mush together characters from TV or film into one cool character. Here are a few more confessions:

Confession#1: Part of the reason I like to write in coffee shops is because all of the interesting people are in there! I can’t tell you how many innocent latte buyers came into Starbucks and ended up in one of my books. There is just too much material.

Confession #2: Lots of cute boys I’ve liked in the past have made it into my books. No, I’ll never tell you who they are and I doubt anyone would ever guess but it is like my own little tribute.

Confession #3: Sometimes I put a little bit of myself into a character in the book too. Stephen King always does a cameo in his movies so why can’t I in my books? Example—the school secretary in Revenge Queen that loved the gossip mags and was still trying to drop the 20 pounds after three kids? Uh huh. That was me. :-)

Confession #4: Yeah, sometimes I use people I actually know too. Shhh! But only a little bit about them and then I try to add some really different characteristics to them so that the real people don’t figure it out. Hopefully.

Confession #5: People I wish I knew. I like to think up people I wish I hung out with in high school (not slamming the people I did hang out with of course!! :-) ). I just try and make up really fun, cool characters.

Ok, your turn. How do you come up with your characters?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Tina, that is so funny that you blogged about this today. Last night I was going to blog about characters but just got too tired to drag my bum to the keyboard.

Yes! to all your confessions! I've done all of those things. I also like to pick out the characteristics I wish I had, for good or ill. know that kid who can walk into any room anywhere and really live there? Not arrogant or cocky...just so utterly comfortable with who he is. Now CPs may say that kids just aren't that self-possessed, but there is always that one who is. Of course, then he has to have some other raving flaw, like the fact that sucks on his socks or something!

Emily Marshall said...

How fun, Tina. Love confession time. I do a lot of the same, pulling from people I know in the past or pulling a little characteristics from one person and some from another. And it's amazing what good can come from people-watching.

DeenaML said...

Most of my MCs are combinations of unattributable sources, but they all have a piece of me in them for sure!

Tina, I didn't recognize you in RQ! And can I be in one of your books some time???

Kate Fall said...

While it's confession time, let's not forget about the characters based on people we hate. I love to name my incompetent or annoying characters after people who have crossed me, even if I change the names later on in the process. This is great with school stories and old teachers!

Kristina Springer said...

GG-- Love the confident characters too!

Em-- People watching is the best. OMG-- so many characters in Espresso were people in the cafe while I was writing!

Deena-- Sure! I will have to put you into a book! And that's the fun part of characters-- disguising people in them. That's great that you didn't recognize me in it! :-)

Kate-- OMG-- love putting in people I hate too! Ha! I forgot that one. Meg Cabot tells a great story about almost getting caught for putting in an old enemy in one of her books.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Ah...Literary Revenge...Ain't it grand?! I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car: "Please Don't Annoy the Writer: She might put you in a book and kill you!"