Where do your characters come from? by J Vincent

Happy Valentines!  A tad late as is this blog.  Well, maybe more than a tad but better very late than never.  I was dealing with some severe pain issues as the start of February.  That is improving at last. I find I can now concentrate enough again to string words into sentences. Or so we shall see.

Iaon Gruffudd  Bing Image
Characters can come upon me at any time--I write historicals so, male or female, they are alwaysdressed differently in my mind than in today’s world.  Redcoats and naval blue--what's not to love?

  Sometimes, like with Jamey Vincouer, they just appear fully fleshed and ready to do battle.  As with many in the Honour series I “knew” them when I saw them.  Sometimes this was just in my head.  But I do remember that with Samuel Goodchurch, aka “Preacher” due to his bible quoting tendency, that I had a vague idea what he looked until I saw a man at church one evening. It is rather embarrassing to have your husband ask you why you were ogling a stranger during church services.  Good thing I didn’t have a camera with me.

Bing Image
Other times it takes a while.  I’ll see a photo or someone on tv or in a movie and they stay with me.  Over time they morph in looks and develop a personality all their own. I don’t believe I have ever drawn anyone whole and complete from real life.  Rather I combine characteristics and personality traits that I admire or don’t as the case may be to form new individuals. Many I believe are made up of parts and pieces of the thousands of characters I’ve encountered in the books I have read.

Sometimes the story comes first and the characters are magically plotted along with it by whatever strange function the brain uses.  This used to really worry me for sanity’s sake until I learned it happens with other writers.

For characters that just “appear” whole and complete except their growth during a story I seldom do a character chart.  But Lucien Merristorm, the hero in Honour’s Redemption proved to be an extremely difficult character for me when it came to his growth arc.  Lucian had been on a downward spiral through the previous three Honour books and I thought I knew him well.  When it came to his own book I ran into a brick wall about half way through the story.  In the end I did a character chart which didn’t help. In the end I did an emotional change/growth chart as I followed the synopsis. This enabled me to get a much firmer grasp on Lucien and I finished the book which will be published later this year.

Do you ever imagine characters or lives about characters from books you've read?