Every Monday, MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR focuses on the art and craft of writing, from Shannon’s perspective or that of guest authors. To catch up on all posts, check out the MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR portion of the website! This week features her thoughts on the origin of character.
Where do characters come from? As I often state, all my work evolves at looking at the character as the core, and then seeing what logical plots build around that. It varies for different people, but this happens to be my approach.
So how do I find my characters?
There are two main ways I use:
- Observing people (usually strangers) while going about living my life;
- News stories.
In either case I start with what facts I have available to me – either an event I see in front of me, or the facts presented by a news story – and contemplate what might be untold there. How might a person who has acted the way I’ve seen or been through such an event cope with an event in a genre I like to write (for example, a mystery)?
From there, I try to figure out a logical event for them to react to.
The next step from there becomes figuring out how the event happened, and what the after-effects of said event are on the person’s life. Also, remember I’ve just started with a skeleton impression; I’ll also have to build and flesh out the character along the way.
Those concepts will be for future columns.
Until next time!