Creating Characters Inspired by Real People

Recently, I started my next Work in Progress. Yes, I wanted to start it in October, and not in November during Nanowrimo. I got 6,000 words in and realized it’s just not working. It’s going straight to trash and I’m going to restart it. I’m going to wait until November to start it. I’m going to spend the next two weeks of October planning.

Because that was the issue here: pants-ing.

I’m sure it works for some people. And I gotta admit, I love pantsing, especially during Nanowrimo when the point is to word-dump, not necessarily to come out with a perfect manuscript. But I want to do it right this time. I’m getting old, and I don’t want to waste a month of my life. I’m going to come up with a solid outline this time, and solve what was my biggest issue in the 6,000 words I just dumped: character.

While reading this Nano Prep article, How the Ancient Art of People-Watching Will Make You a Character Pro!, I realized that’s what made my previous novel come so easily. Everything clicked for me when I observed someone in real life who was exactly who I wanted my main character to be.

It was a girl I worked with. I even named my MC after her! (which I changed later, of course). The thing is, everyone in my office hated her. Even I would get annoyed with her. It made me wonder, why? I realized it’s because she has absolutely no filter. She always speaks her mind about anyone and everyone, and she is very, very opinionated. Shell also never let anyone talk shit about her. Not only that but she is very bubbly, optimistic, and a huge lover of gourmet tea.

giphy

(I just realized she’s exactly like Kelly Kapoor from The Office)

 

Boom! Instant character. Suddenly my main character came alive in my story. I sat down and all the scenes came easy because I understood her reactions and motivations in the scene.

I don’t know if this is a right or wrong way to go about creating a character. All I know is it’s worked for me before. So for now, I’m on the hunt for my next real life character inspiration.

giphy

Unfortunately, everyone else at my office is dull so I need to go outside this time. To the mall I go!

Where do you get your ideas from? – Part 1

One of the best places I browse for inspiration is PostSecret.

giphy

I remember back in the day when it was huuuuuuge. Me and my friends would wait every day until new secrets were posted on Sunday, and then we’d scroll through them all and discuss our favourites or ones that made us think.

I even submitted a few secrets once before that were actually published, and they had no idea! There’s this strange thrill of putting something out there that makes you feel free, like you are not the only person who knows about it anymore. And when someone says “that’s a silly thing to be worried about”, it makes you stop and think that maybe something that has had a powerful hold on you, might not actually be that powerful.

Anyways, I still look through it from time to time and save my favourite secrets. Ones that are shocking and others that are ordinary. Then, when I’m writing a new character, I have a look and see if it’s something I can use to create a psychological roadblock for my character.

You never know what will hold someone back. And how easy it is to let go!

Here is one of my latest favourites:

untitled

Or Perhaps

At work I received the RANDOMEST spam email ever.

cauliflower2

From: cauliflower please

Subject: …enjoy!

Message:

banking on eating well…

or perhaps

the cauliflower will be devoured one flowerette per day…

We will be boiling the leaves and roots, and rediscovering all manner of wild veggies!

—-

Okay now. Settle down, Mr. Cauliflower Spambot.

I get it that there’s been issues in the news lately about the soaring price of cauliflower. This e-mail probably has something to do with that.

Things I love about this e-mail:

  • poetic formatting
  • the title asking me to enjoy! As if I wouldn’t enjoy random vegetable poetry!
  • hilarious title (cauliflower, PLEASE)
  • dramatic pause of the second line (OR PERHAPS!!!)
  • random usage of ellipses
  • flowery language (devoured one flowerette per day…)
  • suggestive ending (rediscovering all manner of wild veggies!)

I’ve read this email/poem 10 times already today. I seriously can’t stop laughing. I actually printed it out and pinned it to my wall.

What does it even MEAN?!!?

It almost sounds like some kind of threat.

Maybe I’ve stumbled onto some kind of covert spy instructions.

My mission, if I chose to accept it, is to devour the cauliflower, boil the leaves and roots, and find out where the gold is buried.

#ThereMustBeAStoryInThereSomewhere