Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Who Are Your Characters? By Jacki Moss

“Are your characters patterned after anyone you know?” That’s a common question interviewers ask a fiction author, because that’s often what readers want to know. As an author, I love when people ask that question! That means they want to know more about a character. It means that for some reason, they care. That’s always a good thing.

Characters are the most important part of a story. After all, the world revolves around people, the characters in our own lives, in our own stories. Isn’t everything really about people, about relationships, about how people interact with one another?

Accordingly, character development is key to drawing readers into a story. If you do it right, readers somehow identify with your characters. They either have similar traits, or hopes and dreams, or feelings, or fears. Or they may know someone like your characters.

You want to develop your character into a multi-dimensional, relatable actor, as well as cultivate a relationship between your character and the reader. It can be a friendship or an adversarial relationship. It can be a combination of both, depending upon the complexity the character and the situation he or she is placed into.

Allowing, drawing readers to put themselves into your character’s shoes creates a bond. Quirks and eccentricities give characters depth. We all have them. We are all amazingly alike and uniquely different.

It’s the author’s job to craft characters from the millions of similarities and differences we have.

So, the answer to, “Are your characters patterned after anyone you know?” is yes, and no.

My characters are bits and pieces of people I know, of people I’ve read about, of people who I only know from family and friend’s stories.

For instance, Cafton, my main character in With A Bullet, is loosely patterned after me, at my best and at my worst. His name, Cafton, is an old family name, first popping up in the mid-1800s and ending as my father’s middle name. I’ve always loved that name. It’s unique, memorable, and seems to have an implied quality of reserved integrity to it. Those are the qualities I wanted for my Cafton character.

Cafton and other characters have habits, eccentricities, and traits of other people, from friends, family, or perfect strangers who happen to come into my awareness.

And, yes, it is certainly possible that if an author notices you, you may recognize a smidgeon of yourself in a book.


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