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29 Days of Writing: Day 9 - Joelle's misc
January 18th, 2011
10:01 am
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29 Days of Writing: Day 9

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating

This isn't an easy one to answer. I'm a visual person; I 'meet' my characters in my mind, one reason I have characters for the Geren sequels ('Renewer Rising') kicking around in my head for a good 15 years now, and I still don't know their names! Essentially, I am the opposite of the methodical sort who goes down a checklist of traits and 'assembles' a character. If I tried to do that, the resulting character would be a dead puppet, not living.

So the best way for me to flounder through answering this question is to give examples from recent characters I've 'met,' as my memory isn't good enough with characters from 5-17 years ago.

Most recent is Tarlah, whose story I hope to write soon. I saw her as I was writing chapter 1 of 'Delarun' section 5, walking down a hillside with some other people from Delarun. She was a contrast in my mind with Ganil (not the Ganil of the Geren books) for Ganil was older, broader, brisk and mother-hen-like, whereas Tarlah had a sort of 'Goth' look to her--straight dark hair and black eyes, pale skin, thin and tall and silent--but it was the shadows in her eyes, the way she reacted when the protagonist Starthistle asked what 'Delarun' was...that snared me. I had to know where she had come from, what horror shadowed her past that The Defender had rescued her from...and soon I did.

The other recent example is Septurn from the story 'Resurrection.' I already spelled out his genesis in my header to that story, but since no one has read it, I guess that gives me permission to be redundant! I was on an airplane headed to California, rereading part of book 5 on my netbook, and there was a line from The Defender to Geren which triggered my imagination. I wondered how he knew that information...and if his knowing of it had a face, rather than dry facts passed along from person to person. Right then I had a daydream-vision, and there was Septurn lying on the beach with the rest of the garbage, a slave thrown out to die because he was too old to be worth feeding anymore. Nearly the entire story came to me in the following minutes.

So that is probably a good sample of how I 'create' new characters. Sometimes I run across them while writing about someone else, and yearn to learn more, and just as often, a character and/or a story springs into my mind when I ask myself a question. (Such was the origin of the story 'Shadowe' which I wrote in 2008.)

And this is quite long enough, so I shall stop now!

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