Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finding Your Inspirations for Characters and Settings

I have seen a lot of different approaches for developing the characters for authors' books. Many go to great lengths to develop full profiles of their characters. Now, with the advent of social media, specifically sites such as Pinterest, authors are now taking this far beyond the character plotting bulletin boards we once used. Everything down to hair color, nail style and make-up is being posted online to create the perfect three-dimensional character.

In many ways, authors are taking the approach that Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell Smith did
when they created "Lisa" (aka Kelly LeBrock) in WEIRD SCIENCE. Although Lisa had everything that Wyatt and Gary wanted in a woman, she really was too perfect.

But the funny thing is that authors don't have to go that far.

I am a big fan of people watching. Going to the grocery, walking through the mall and even walking down the street can provide an author with more than enough resources to develop the perfect character. In fact, I would almost argue that the character is more realistic that the prepped out Internet version.

Looking around us is a great way to find that inspiration for the characters in our stories, and I would also argue, for the settings of your stories. You aren't taking their life stories, but simply looking at the way they act and behave, the way they talk and the way they react in different situations.

The same goes for the settings of your books. Just look around you and you might be amazed at what you see. Your characters are walking together down the street of a small town, just look at the characteristics of that small town street. Again, I am not saying to make a carbon copy of your small town, but use the template the real world has created for you.

I do have to say, there are a lot of times when I read a story and the characters or the settings come across as too stereotypical. The small town that always has the cupcake shop directly next door to the used book store and across the street is the barber shop. While that might be the case in some place, it doesn't have to be that cookie cutter in all of your books.

Take the time today, as you move around your own world, to simply open your eyes. Who knows? You might find your next hero, heroine, or even the setting for your next book.

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