Where Do the Characters Come From?

Where Do the Characters Come From?

I am often asked where my characters come from. The answer is simple – everywhere! Now, this doesn’t really answer the question, but I’ll give you some examples to help you understand that the characters really can come from anywhere. So, open your mind, put on your thinking cap, and see how many places you can discover the next character for your story!

Characters from Real Life: Sometimes characters are modeled after real people. In my children’s book, The Troll King of Wildland: The Adventures of Juliana, the lead character is Juliana. This is the story of an amazing little girl who is given a necklace by one of her grandmothers. Unbeknownst to Juliana, her two dogs, Kula and Cocoa, and her new ferret, Reba, are actually enchanted guards from the world of Wildland.

In real life, there really are a Juliana, Kula, Cocoa, and Reba. I was talking with Juliana’s father, Nathan, another real figure in the story, who asked me where I got my ideas from. I told him I could hear a name and pretty much create a story around it. I could tell he didn’t believe me, LOL, which is okay, most people don’t. His response was “So, if I give you the names of my two dogs, Kula and Cocoa, you could write a story about them?” He asked me in a somewhat skeptical tone.

When I started creating a story on the phone, he stopped me and told me that they also had a ferret and asked if I could include Reba. Before I knew it, he gave me Juliana’s name. I asked him some questions about her to get a feel for her character and told him I would write a story about her and her pets, but I needed to finish the story I was working on first. Shortly after our conversation, I sent him a copy of The Troll King of Wildland: The Adventures of Juliana. It is the magical story of a young girl who travels to Wildland to save the King of Wildland who has been kidnapped by the Troll King. Action, adventure, and many surprise twists, including an unlikely ending take the reader on a surprising journey.

Fictitious Characters Need to Be Real: In many of my other stories, the characters may be fictitious, but they all contain elements of people I have met during my life. In Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free series, Makayla reminds me a lot of myself at that age. I remember the turmoil of being a teenager, trying to find my place in the world. Her friendships, her relationship with her grandfather, and her desire to have her mom a part of her life makes her real to readers because we have all been there. Most of us have lived through the high school drama, the confrontations, the young love, and the need to find some sense of calm in a world that always seems a bit overwhelming.

Other times, my ideas come from a song, or in the case of Dust, from a workshop I was in. I was sitting in a large, crowded room listening to a speaker talking about the China market. He mentioned superheroes and the image of Dust rose in my mind with such intensity that I began writing his story right there. It was such a powerful tale with a main character that enthralled me! How would I react if I was in his situation? What would I do if I found I was changing? Dust became that superhero who didn’t know he was a hero and one that was still evolving.

The Essence of a Story: Characters are the heart of the story, they should be as 3-D in the story as they are in real life. So, the next time you are looking for the perfect characters, take a look around you and you might just find that they were there all the time! Who knows, if you look in the mirror, that character just might be you!

About S. E. Smith

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

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