FAQ: “Where Do You Get Your Characters?” #amwriting

My readers who meet me in person often ask me, “Where do you get your characters?”

It varies. Sometimes a character is loosely based on a person or two I know. Sometimes he started life as a literary character—though he’s unrecognizable by the time I get through with him. Sometimes I’m sitting at a blank computer screen and she just walks into my brain and says something like, “Hey, chica, this book gonna be about me.”

I don’t have an elaborate system set up. I know writers who fill out three-page Role Playing Game character design forms for their protagonists, villains, and main supporting characters. That’s way too organized for me.

What I’m looking for in a protagonist is a character that I like and who is interesting enough for me to want to spend six months or more of my life with him/her/it. Likeable can mean such things as: Intelligent. Kind or becoming so. Interesting means flaws: Fraser’s temper and PTSD. Spencer’s lack of connection with other humans. I’ve abandoned books with protagonists whom I either started disliking or found boring.

I usually find a photo or do a drawing of each main character in order to have a visual image of him. I hope you enjoy my sketch of Jonathan Fraser! If you subscribe to my newsletter, check your email for a link to his biography. If you’re not a subscriber, subscribe now to get access to Fraser’s bio.

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