Nine Sources of Unforgettable Characters


Fiction is about people, and a novel’s key element is characterization.

But how do you do it? How do you spawn characters? From whence do they hail? Does a doctor bring them in a black bag? Or a stork?

No, there’s no magical process involved. Just turn your mind into a net for ideas, cast it out into the waters of life and literature, and gather in the ideas that are always already there waiting to be discovered.

Ideas from Life

Have you heard of mimesis? It’s the idea that art is supposed to derive in some way from life.

“My life?” Yes, your life. “But nothing happens in my life that isn’t dull, average, ordinary, and uninteresting.”

Fluff-and-stuff. You couldn’t be more wrong. What seems ordinary to you will seem strange to someone else. And better yet, something that’s ordinary to me will seem strange when you describe it.

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