I’m a character writer. I can’t start a story until I have a good grasp of most of my major characters. I usually start with a face that catches my attention for some reason, but there are so many other ways for finding characters. If you need inspiration for creating characters, try the suggestions below.
- Yearbooks–especially if you are writing historical fiction
- Crowds–for finding faces and for overhearing passing conversations. The way somebody talks or a comment about someone can spark a character.
- Old movies–and I mean old. Look at movies from the ’30’s, 40’s and 50’s. You might be surprised at the casting choices of old Hollywood.
- Songs--I’ve always thought “Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles would make a perfect noir, as long as one of the three characters described in the lyrics is killed. Click here for more on songs as writing inspiration.
- Bible—Click here for my post on the Bible as writing inspiration.
- Friends and relatives–although use them with caution. I never take a someone I know and dump them into a story as a whole character. They may not care for the character I choose for them.
- Free image sites--I use Pixabay. I use the search term “portrait” or “faces” and see what comes up. Below are the portraits that have turned into characters.
Her name is Coral. She’s twelve. She loves working outdoors on the family farm with her father and grandfather. She also loves animals, both domestic and wild, and hates everything about school.
Her name is Egypt. She’s twenty-two. Her grandfather calls her Gyp. She fights with him but is very loyal to him and has an explosive temper.
Now it’s your turn. Where do you find inspiration for creating characters?
I see my characters in my mind and draw their faces as best I can. I concentrate on their frequent look: Do they smile or frown a lot? Pout? Or look eager, shy, or thoughtful? This becomes their main personality when I put them into the story I’m writing. I refer to magazines and the Internet for hairstyles and clothing … even styles of glasses, if they wear them. I keep my drawings and written information in notebooks, which I use often when working on a series of books that use recurring characters.
I’ve always wanted to be able to draw my characters. But I have no training or talent. That’s fascinating that you develop their personalities from their frequent expressions.
I guess I could have just used photos from magazines to use for my characters. But I have to thank my interest in writing character stories for developing my skills drawing portraits. All because I wanted to illustrate my stories. But it took many tries and years to make the people in those drawings look real.
I get character inspiration from crowds, and yes, I eavesdrop (it’s research, of course!)