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Gail Gaymer Martin

One day late, but I'm here. Welcome from Gail Gaymer Martin @www.gailmartin.com

Writers Digest had an excellent article on characterization in January 2011 written by David Corbett. A small part of that article was subtitled Real-Life Characters, and it offered a list of possible characters you might find in your own life. The author suggested you create a list of interesting people and provide a details, physical appearance, and the effect this person had on you. This activity triggered a double idea which I’d like to share with you.

First, where do you get your characterization ideas? Your imagination is one place that works. It’s where I get most of my ideas. I take characters from the numerous clothing catalogues that come to my house. They're not all beautiful people so it makes them realistic, and then, throughout the catalogue, they show them in multiple attire and in various poses often in different seatings. This stimulates ideas for me. What kind of person is this? Personality? Problems? Flaws? The photograph stimultes my mind. I cut out numerous poses of one character and attach them to 81/2 X 11 sheets of paper and file them for future use.

 Another why we get ideas are from people you know or have known in your past. You may not want to use the specifics about the person, but it may stimulate your creativity and you can grab a characteristic from one person, a flaw from another, or an attribute from another and build your own original character.

Another idea came from the same part of the article and that is creating your own interesting characters or secondary characters by preparing a list of character types and then referring to them as you begin to build your plot and create your story ideas. Do you need conflict? Look at the list and decide if one of these characters might appear in your novel and add tension. Here’s a few ideas of my own and from the author’s list, but you can add many others from your own experience and then have a great character resource when you need it.

A neighborhood bully

A neighbor who causes you suspicion

A family member you are close to

A family member who brings out the best in you

A family member who brings out the worst in you

A friend who brings out the best in you

A friend who brings out the worst in you

A childhood friend you continue to see or hear from

Someone you had a secret crush on or felt an attraction

Your first love

Your favorite neighbor

Your least favorite neighbor

Your adult workplace nemesis

Your childhood nemesis

A person who believed in you

A favorite teacher

A person who annoys you

A person you consider needy

A love you lost

A stranger who touched your life

A person who impacted your life

Someone who constantly puts you down

A person you admire

A person you fear

Someone you would like to be

Any elderly neighbor you find intriguing

A person who taught you an important lesson

You can add many characters to this list and keep it for times when you desire to up your plot with something new or different. Keep notes on people you met or who cross your path. You never know when they might trigger a great character idea for you.

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