Creating Character

In my writing, I often question whether I create my characters or whether they create themselves. I have a more difficult time writing about characters in a longer piece of work such as a novella or novel, and I find it easier to portray my characters in short stories.

For example, in my short story The Softball Crush (Vintage Voices Four Part Harmony, 2008), creating the situation and characters was easy, because the characters were based on children I went to grade school with. The story situation was based on two truths I had as a child: I could not play softball to save my life, and in eighth grade the most popular boy in school asked me to be his girlfriend.

My story The Bicycle will be published in the Vintage Voices anthology to come out this year. The only truths in that story were that my father really would not let me have a bike, and I grew up in a small town in California. The rest is fictional.

However, my novel-in-progress is not based on any part of my life. Through a series of circumstances, my protagonist finds out a truth about his past that literally sends him into a another world (we are not talking science fiction here). Thus, he finds himself embarking on a life changing journey that brings him in touch with parts of himself that he never knew existed.

We have all encountered finding missing parts of ourselves and learning how to integrate them into who we are today. I have never dealt with the depth of what has been missing in my protagonist for most of his life, and I have no real person to base his life on. Therefore, I am having to work harder on creating this character.

Writing is hard work not matter how you look at it. While my short stories might seem easier to write, I still have to put a lot of work into them to make sure they are what people might want to read. Sometimes I feel like throwing the pages of my novel across the room, other times I want to keep it close to me as I would a child. No matter how I feel, I won’t give up on writing my novel. Feelings are fleeting, they just are. The written word is permanent.

Happy writing to all.

5 thoughts on “Creating Character

  1. Congrats, Susan, on your Bicycle story being published! And do stay with that novel. I can't wait to read it!


  2. I find creating characters from real persons difficult. They need to be their own personality, and if I let 'em base off of people I know, this bites me sooner or later. 🙂


  3. Hi Andi,

    For me, sometimes I base my characters off of a type of idea I have about people, or a personality trait that I like or think will work well in the story. Other times, I start from scratch.


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