“Hey, I know her…He sounds just like my brother… I’m sure that character was fashioned after me.”
People often ask, do writers really use people they know as characters in their books, or are they a total figment of their imaginations?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I tend to use a combination of both. You see, I’m a people watcher. No matter where I am, whether it’s at the park, movie theater, mall, coffee shop, restaurant, or airport. I love to watch people interact and react to each other. Try it, watch people for a while and you will see that you can pick up on their quirks, irritations, favorite words or phrases. I watch for these, discreetly of course, and when something they do, or a certain way they say something catches my eye, I whip out my iPad and make a short note. I have a file full of notes on all these quirks and traits, and when I start to give a character life, I will often pull from that file to round out his or her personality.
The trick is to use these quirks, characteristics, or character flaws, to create a character more dimensional and memorable. Use them just enough to be effective, but not so much as to make them annoying or distractive to the reader. What do I mean? Here’s an example. In my romantic suspense series I gave my villain two quirks. The first, when he would meet with the heroine at his office he would avoid acknowledging her and when he did eventually show interest he would steeple his fingers, as if erecting a barrier between the two. Both of these characteristics show that he felt the heroine was inferior to him. This villain appeared in two of my novels and I used these traits only two to three times in each book.
I have to admit, I don’t always use strangers, when collecting quirks. I have been known to incorporate a few traits of friends and family into the mix. For example, the idea of The Winters Sisters Series rolled around in my mind for over a year, but I had a missing link. I couldn’t fully develop my first heroine. One day my Veterinarian girlfriend and I sat on the floor of an exam room at her clinic and talked while we waited for the acupuncture to do its thing on one of my Dobermans. We chatted about all the things we both did for our canine family and how much they are a part of our lives. It was that very moment all the pieces fell into place and Victory Winters was born; her personality is based on my dear and caring friend.
So, I guess my advice is always play nice. Because you never know, someone might be watching you….
About the Author, Joanne Jaytanie:
Joanne was born and raised in Sherburne, New York, a quaint village surrounded by dairy farms and rolling hills. From the moment she could read she wanted to explore the world. During her college years she slowly crept across the country, stopping along the way in Oklahoma, California, and finally Washington State, which she now proudly calls home. She lives with her husband and Dobermans, in their home located on the Kitsap Peninsula with a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains.
Joanne writes paranormal, romantic suspense. She loves writing about the twists and turns of her character’s lives and the trouble they find themselves involved in, coupled with building an everlasting relationship. She enjoys a wide variety of books including paranormal, suspense, thriller, and most of all romance.
Joanne is a member of Romance Writers of America, and an active member of Debbie Macomber’s home chapter, Peninsula Romance Writers, where she currently serves as the President.
Contact me here:
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