Finding Characters in Real Life

Feb 16, 2011

The other day, I was walking down the street. My neighbor, who is the strong, silent, manly type, was cleaning his garage.

To the tune of Celine Dion.

Not exactly what I expected to hear from him. It made me smile, because I felt like that little contradiction helped me get to know him just a bit better. It made him interesting to me. It made me want to base a character on him.

Now, basing characters on real people can be iffy. Charles Dickens did it, and had several relatives who stopped speaking to him. But taking bits and pieces from the people around you helps craft believable, contradictory, fascinating characters. I've got several characters in TUGL that have aspects of friends, coworkers, and family members. It's fun to see how those traits mix with others to make my characters real.

So, my friends, have you ever based a character on someone you know? Tell us about it!


Misha Gerrick said...

Hmm... The one time I purposefully engineered a character in the image of a friend, she did not like what I saw.

I have this tendency to see too deeply into people's personalities.

Now I just leave it to my muse to create characters from bits and pieces stored away.


Michelle Merrill said...

There are so many different characteristics that I love about people I see. A lot of times I think, "I totally have to make a character like them." The problem is that when my characters enter the scene or book, they like to choose their own personality quirks. I can't seem to force it on them.

Maybe one day.

David P. King said...

I know I've done that a couple of times. Granted, those characters ended up dying, or suffer some sort of calamity. Not anymore, though. I think I'm passed that :)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I haven't based on characters on people I know, but I did see this guy in the doctor's office the other day who I'm determined to put in my next ms. He was a big, booming, giant man with a white, frizzy beard. Too good to pass up.


Aleeza said...

charles dicken's relatives actually stopped speaking to them? id be honored if someone based their characters on me :D unless if they were total, utter bitches or something like that.
anyway, im a new follower--hi! :)

j.leigh.bailey said...

One of my current characters was inspired by a real-life with an interesting contradiction--shy, quiet teen, with eyeliner which seems un-shy-like. Great post!

Kari Marie said...

Bits and pieces but never the whole. I'll never tell which bits either!

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