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Sunday, January 30, 2011

CHARACTER TRAITS


Now, before you ask, no, I don’t base my characters on people I know. Well, not exactly. I might pull a characteristic or two, but no full characters are based on any one person and many of the traits I give my characters are pulled from my imagination. That said, I come from a fairly large family and occasionally I snag a character trait (or two) from them.

Say, for example, I need to think of something a crazy father-figure would do. Well, I needn’t look too far for inspiration. My dad once flew a hang-glider that my brother purchased at a garage sale. No, neither one of them had any prior experience with such things—unless you count flying kites, which apparently they did. I can’t recall how long he was airborne but I do remember the crash and the weeks thereafter that he nursed a broken arm. Regrettably, this happened pre-YouTube, otherwise that video would’ve gone viral in seconds.


A couple of my books have sibling rivalry worked into the plot, and so occasionally I need examples of what older siblings might do to younger siblings. For that I draw on personal experiences (being a younger sibling myself).

My brothers aren't Sumo Wrestlers, but if they were, the inverted kid in the picture would've been me.

Have you ever been shoved half-naked into a sleeping bag, zipped up and then tossed into a snow bank? I have! Have you ever been placed on a bed between the box-spring and a mattress as though you were playing the “pea” in a very disturbing version of the Princess and the Pea? Yep, that happened to me, too ... often. It’s not just older brothers either. My sisters once turned me into a human doll, complete with dress and makeup! I could go on but my psychiatrist warned me not to dwell.

Hmmm, the more I think about it, perhaps the key to coming up with good characters isn’t so much the imagination at all, it’s being raised in an environment that provides future material. I guess I should thank my brother for the time he put a spider in my cornflakes.

Nah!

2 comments:

Librarygirl said...

LOL. Is that true about the hang glider? To funny! I have one sister and one brother and when we were younger my sister and I forced my brother into a dress. I guess that's sort of a must-happen experience for little brothers. Thanks for reminding me of that.

I'm a writer to. I'm not published yet but I hope to be one of these days. When are your books going to be released? Do you have an agent or did you go after publishers on your own?

Steven Whibley said...

Hey Librarygirl, thanks for stopping by. The glider story is 100% true. I still laugh when I think of it (I know, I'm mean :) ).

As soon as the dates turn solid I'll post em here (pretty sure October though). I do have an agent now, but I didn't for the first couple books. Great questions, thank you. And best of luck with your publishing goals!

Cheers

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