While writer’s block can be remedied by just looking around at your family or friends, stories can also be started that way. I have read several interviews where authors say they were writing a completely different book when, all of a sudden, they wrote in a minor character. Some dialouge would pass, and all of a sudden the writer would realize they didn’t know where the person came from, what their motives are, why they’re there. THe character becomes all important, and boom! the old book is thrown away, and a new one is started. This is how Alan Bradley, the author of the award-winning Flavia de Luce books, got his idea- he stumbled upon Flavia innocnetly sitting on a stool in her driveway.
Characters, to me, are the most improtant part of any story. Plot, setting, conflict… there ar many ways to think of ideas. Characters are mine. I will think of a person, or several people. I’ll give them hopes, dreams, fears, loves. I’ll fill out surveys for them. Ages, birhtdays, favorite things. They can have email accounts, or go on websites, or create odd sonnets. And suddenly they will become so real they need a story where they can play on paper, where the adjectives that take hours to find can stay forever. And that’s when I start writing.
One of my favrite main characters, a boy named Griffin, was developed by, as I said at the beginning, going to school. I wrote down a list of all my friends, then started listing traits. Funny, an inability to be serious, shy, outgoing to friends, likes to read, plays basketball, memorized the periodic table of elements, active, obliging, iamginative, exuberant, good at listening….. the list went on. And on. And on. And each trait was put under a name, so I remembered who they came from. Next, I took one element- eloquent- from my friend Julia. Every trait after that was easy- a word from this list, a phrase from this, and adjective from here. It was like making a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, except I was using traits instead of body parts. And the end creation was absolutely lovable to me- a mishmash of people I held dear.
I kept that list, and I use it often any time I need to develop a charcater, brand-new or old. I helps me think of everything to where the character lives to the entire plot. But characters are just my way of thinking- I’d be interested to hear how else to come up with great ideas.