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On Characters: Real or Figmentation?

Greetings, readers! March is already well underway (practically half over already!) and I find myself constantly boggled by how the time flies. For the next couple of weeks here we’re going to focus on characters, answering a couple of questions about their development and working with them and all that great stuff.

This week’s topic is (drum roll, please) . . .: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Answer: No and yes, but then yes and no. Confusing? I agree. Allow me to explain.

When I first began this TJT project, most of the characters were actually based off characters from the story that inspired TJT. But a good deal of them I made up on the spot and as I went. I made no conscious effort to model my fictitious creations after real-life individuals (living or dead). However, the longer I worked with them and the more they developed and the more I got to know them, I began to see some parallels in people I know. Of course, every last one shares at the very least one trait with myself. As their author that’s pretty inevitable, even we as humans share that image with God, our maker and author.

I saw in Iris long ago quite a bit of myself (and a whole lot of what I wish I could be (she’s far more kind and compassionate and much less squeamish than I am)) Since then I found myself asking the question of ‘how would I react in that situation?’ How she interacts with the company is pretty heavily based on how I might (or think I might) behave in the same environment.

Jonquil is very similarly so, but I discovered one day that he shares a lot of traits with my elder brother. The anxiety, the reclusiveness, the lack of appreciation for heights (which I LOVE), among others. While the two are very different, I couldn’t help but notice the synonymous personalities, and, for me, it just makes the two that much more endearing.

Sergil is not so much like me as he is my father. He might even look a bit like my father (if dad had a once-broken nose, brown eyes, and longer hair . . . so maybe not so much). Both spent some time in the armed forces (although my father (thankfully) never saw war) and have that kind of discipline. Neither are exceptionally deep when it comes to expressing their emotions to others, and they like to get things done ─ sitting around waiting and doing nothing is most certainly not on their list of favorite things to do. (Not to make my dad sound like a stiff person, because he’s really not at all).

These three expressed the most noticeable congruencies with real people around me, which just goes to show the influences people have, that they can weasel their way into character development without mine or their intent. My characters all started out purely from my imagination, but the imagination is fed from the people and relationships and environments and experiences surrounding us. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw that said ‘Be careful, or you’ll end up in my novel’ ─ which I think is great and totally true.

So, no, my characters are not based off real people and yes, they’re entirely from my imagination, but then, yes, some of my characters are influenced by real people so, no, they’re not pure figmentations. Does that make any sense? I guess this just goes to show that my character development process is still unripe!


The Goodreads Giveaway for Adventures in Isle is still underway, with only two weeks left, so don’t miss this opportunity to enter for a chance to win one of seven autographed copies, each with their own series bookmark!

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