I focused on the question “How do you think up your characters”.
Francine Rivers, in response to this frequently asked question, said that often her characters are composites of people she knows. I think that there is something of someone we know in almost all of our characters, even if we don’t consciously put it there. My older sister, Elizabeth, writes stories like no one else I have ever met. Every time I have a birthday, she writes a story for me. This last one was called “The little Salt Girl” and it was one of the best stories I have ever read. As I was reading, I was startled out of the book by realizing that the main character of the book, the little salt girl, was me. Another thing Francine Rivers mentions about how her characters come about is that sometimes they are people that she would like to be. This is interesting, because the main character of any good novel will make mistakes, and do some not-so-good things. No well-rounded character is perfect. Yet this is probably true of a lot of authors. Something I know I do in my reading is that I search for characters that I either (1) relate to or (2) want to be like. I found it very interesting that authors do similar things in their writing. Francine Rivers gives an example of a character that she is like in some ways, who is not a very flattering person to be like. His name is Atretes, and he is a character driven by anger. A lot of people have this problem, perhaps not as badly as Atretes does, but almost everyone has made rash decisions when they were angry, that they have later regretted. Sometimes in my writing, especially in my poetry, I put in two different sides of myself, the side that I like, and the side that I don’t like. It is, for me, a way of stepping outside myself, and looking at things from an outsider’s point of view. It is a way of putting things in order in my mind, and it helps me figure out how to solve the problem with the side that I don’t like. “Some characters help to flesh out an issue”. What exactly does this phrase mean? It means that there are some characters whose main purpose is to fill in the gaps, or to show something from a different point of view, to help the reader understand something different about the story. These characters may seem disposable, but often they are really quite necessary. Sometimes it is vital that you see the plot from their angle, or that you understand something from their point of view in order for the story to function. There are several different ways for characters to be born, and Francine Rivers seems to touch on the important ones quite nicely. Sometimes though, it is difficult to tell how a character came about. Sometimes it seems that they are born of themselves, with no prompting or help from the writer. But this is a bit uncommon, usually characters come from us, the offspring of our lives and of our thoughts, and sometimes even the offspring of our personalities. ~Watson