Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Character Creation Wednesday

A major part of every erotica writer's job is lounging around in their jammies, dreaming up sexy men and women who want to get it on.

Okay, so it sounds like a lot more fun and a lot less work than it actually is. But coming up with characters is definitely one of my favorite parts of writing erotica. I'll admit I’m a bit of a thief when it comes to my characters. I’ve been known to steal—I’m sorry, borrow—personality traits and physical attributes from friends, family, loved ones, enemies, passing strangers and photographs in magazines.

Lately, my characters have shown up with my bike mechanic’s gorgeous grease-stained fingers, a stranger’s tattooed feet, the pouty lips of Sark (a character from the TV show, Alias), a laugh I overheard in a coffee shop, and my man’s habit of talking to himself in Italian while he cooks. All sexy in their own way, and all the little details that can make a character really come alive on the page.

So: Where do your characters come from? How do you create them and put them on the page? Do you “borrow” from real-life people? The rich and famous? Books and movies? Or from the depths of your imagination?


Portia Da Costa said...

A combination of both really... I nick things all the time from people on the telly, in films and in books and magazines. But occasionally, a character foible will just pop into my head out of the blue. It's as if the character is alive somewhere and I'm just writing down their quirks...

And thanks for posting this topic! Reminds me to add a few *extra* quirks to the characters in my WIP! They need fleshing out a bit... :)

Nikki Magennis said...

What magpies, we are, eh? I think the first glimmer of a character usually comes from a feeling. I can kind of 'smell' it.

The little traits I borrow from real life - how they wear their hair or their name. But their actual personality is harder to pin down...maybe they're ghosts or aspects of myself. Or maybe there's a parallel Character Universe where they all actually exist.

What I'm trying to say is that I feel like they already exist when I write them and I'm just uncovering what's there. Listening for the story.

Now you'll all really think I'm a nutter! ; )

Portia Da Costa said...

"What I'm trying to say is that I feel like they already exist when I write them and I'm just uncovering what's there. Listening for the story."

Exactly, Nikki! I have to help characters along with physical bits and pieces, but the personalities of my story people do come out of what you so aptly call a 'Character Universe' somewhere... :)

Alison Tyler said...

I borrow all the time—nobody is safe around me: friends, family, strangers. But sometimes characters just arrive, unannounced, demanding satisfaction. Nick Hudson, my detective in Sticky Fingers, was like that for me. Battering against my brain to get out. And in WOWY (With or Without You), I became so infatuated with my character Nora that I actually started to dress like her. To take on her style.

The strangest thing that happens to me is when characters refuse to do what I want them to. When I have a plan and sit down to type, and something completely different takes place than what I was expecting. When that occurs, I have to agree with Nikki—that the characters (alive and well in their alternate universe) are completely and totally calling the shots.

Then it’s just exciting to be along for the ride…


PS Shanna, what a fun topic!

Nikki Magennis said...

Oh bloody hell, I hate stubborn characters! Sometimes they just won't do what you tell them too, and will muck up everything until you let them do what THEY think is right.

Maybe I should get out more. The voices in my head say I should.

'Lunatic, lover and the poet...' etc.

Shanna Germain said...

Oh yes, that point where my characters move from something I've created into something that lives and breathes on their's a great moment! (and a little scary, like how Dr. Frankenstein must have felt the first time he saw his creation take a breath).

It's a little like playing God, or how I imagine it might be to raise a child: you do what you hope are all the right things to piece this character together and then you just watch with hope and fear when they take their first steps into the wild world.

Anonymous said...

I really don't know. But recently I had the bizarre experience of having a character waltz in and steal a story from under me.

I was writing a scene where my werewolf hero had to get some advice from some witches, but he couldn't find their coven. I sat him down on a bench while I tried to figure out how he was going to find them and this woman sat down next to him and just stole the plot.

I love her. She's one of my favourite characters. But I have no idea who she is. I don't think I could even take the credit for her myself.

Maybe she really was a witch.

Olivia Knight a.k.a. angelsandinsects said...

I had an unexpected stranger pop up when my character needed to cadge a cigarette and I was in a feral mood - he transformed the entire plot, as he turned out to be a ghost and hold the key to many secrets. The ones that just slip in like that are so easy. But for sitting down and drumming up new people - I often flip through magazines and pull out likely candidates. And of course the pics don't have to be of humans - animals, statues, and so forth, can be even more provocative. What I want to do is a game I play with my students (but you need a little gathering for it): stick each photo on a page, and write headings like Name, Age, Lives in, Nationality, Job, Likes, Dislikes, and so on - then each person fills in one item, and passes it on. If you go for several rounds, you all leave with a sheaf of characters.

Madelynne Ellis said...

I have absolutely no idea where my characters come from. They seem to appear in my head as niggly, persistant voices until I manage to guess their names and then their personalities burst forth.

Of course, there are always the ones, like Tilly says, that just waltz in and take over. Vaughan was never supposed to be in A Gentleman's Wager, and he stole the book!

Jenny said...

Many moons ago, I kept a little spiral notebook of index cards and recorded characters there. Some pages would just have a name on them, some a full bio. I wonder where that notebook is? That would be interesting to find.

I also used to cut clothes our of magazines and catalogs and keep them in a photoalbum. I several albums, in fact. Another for people in publications who caught my eye, furnishings, and I even had several house plan books.

My favorite thing to keep up with is oddities. Sometimes something totally bizarre will enter my head. Like once, I thought of a large women in a vinyl yellow dress and that some other character would refer to her as Big Bird, or and overstuffed Tweety. When I was writing this story titled Vengeance, I went through my list of oddities and that one stood out. The woman who wore the yellow dress was nuts in a bad way. My herorine and best friend say her in the dress while she and her even more biobolical husband sang tunes from the Grease Soundtrack!

Now everyone thinks I'm nuts

Kate Pearce said...

They just turn up in my head-usually it's the men first and I have no idea where they've come from...
kinda creepy if you think about it too much.
I just write them because it's the only way to get them out of my head and my dreams.
Am I nuts?

t'Sade said...

Most of my ideas come from friends, family, or people I know. I also takes bit and pieces of my own personality, blow them WAY out of proportation and then add that. I also notice I have a few archetypes that I write with: the specialist, the psycho plant person, down-right strange, and silly.