Where Do My Characters Come From?

by bdhesse

Writers often talk about the inspiration for their characters. Many seem to get inspiration from their kids, or another family member. Sometimes their inspiration is a personal hero or another fictional character. But I find that the best inspiration for my characters is me. I know myself far better than I know anyone else. I know how I’d react in certain situations, how I feel about different things. So when I write a story, I always write about something I’m passionate about. And I always take that passionate part of me and turn it into the main character.

Of course, this character isn’t exactly me, and they don’t have all of my characteristics. That would be boring: all of my main characters would be the same. No, I just put a part of me in them and then create their distinct personality around it. I find this to be a great way to both know the character and assure that my characters are different from each other.

For example, in one story I have two main characters. In one of them I put my tom boy-ness. I made a character that likes to fight and go on adventures. I also made her rebellious. She doesn’t like rules and she was willing to risk everything to do what she wanted. That last bit is the opposite of me. I have an anxiety disorder, so I’m not really prone to risk-taking. In her twin I put my anxiousness. Her twin is more concerned with toeing the line. However, I put a religiousness in her that is not in me. I made sure that they both had something in them that I could draw from. Something that I could know intimately. But I also made sure that they were different from me, and thus different from each other.

That is where my characters come from. Where do your characters come from?