Where do you get your ideas for characters?

By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, July 30, 2008 At 2:30 PM

I saw a really interesting story on NPR yesterday, about a performance artist who develops characters from grocery lists. Hillary Carlip hunts for discarded lists, and then — based on clues such as what the list contains, what it is written on, and the handwriting — she creates a character sketch of each. She also goes a step further, though, dressing up as these characters (and boy does she look believeable!).

I'll definitely be checking out (her pun, not mine) the book, a la Cart, but this story made me think of how fiction writers — myself included — get ideas for characters. I know that I am fascinated with people, and often draw entire characters from short glimpses of strangers on the street. People-watching for character ideas isn't a new concept... but grocery lists?

How do you get ideas for your characters?


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Anonymous Anonymous Says:  

Characters often just start "talking" to me, telling me their stories, or I overhear a snippet of conversation and think, "what if?" and run from there.

Sometimes they're inspired by actual people, but when I do my job properly, they evolve away from the inspiration into unique individuals.

HEX BREAKER releases on Friday, and I am nervous!


Blogger Unknown Says:  

I think the name Hillary Carlip is great in itself. :))


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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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