Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Fictional characters can be based on real people or animals (of course they can), but often they are not. In fact, most of mine are not. Many characters are created from our own minds and our own minds only. In the manuscript I finished last Thursday (Woohoo! It's now percolating for several weeks before I revise), however, I created a dog who is created from a real dog. Well, actually dogs. Plural. Two of them. Both of them mine. Pets at different times.

The dog in my manuscript looks like this dog of mine, pictured below. Tucker. Tucker was a mixed breed, beautiful but high energy and pretty much a rapscallion. I loved him with my whole heart, but he bit our house sitter and my father-in-law (two separate people) while we were on vacation two summers ago so we had him put to sleep. My dog-loving heart broke.

The dog in my manuscript behaves like this dog of mine, pictured below. Teddy. A Golden Retriever, who is also beautiful but not so high energy, gentle, loved by all, and just a teensy bit of a rapscallion. Teddy joined our family as a puppy, one month after Tucker was put to sleep, and he stitched my broken dog-loving heart back together.

 In fiction's magic, I created a dog for my manuscript who is both of my dogs, rolled into one. Jasper, the dog in my manuscript, has the look of Tucker and the personality of Teddy. While Jasper is not a main character, he frequents the plot, he is a reliable friend, he portrays both of my beloved dogs, and he immortalizes those dogs in story.

Characters move our story. They rotate the plot, progress the conflict, and generate the outcome. How are your characters built? Where do your character ideas come from? How do you create those crazy characters who inhabit your stories?


  1. I take bits and pieces from all over the place to create my characters. Congrats on finishing your draft! I love that feeling!

  2. I think quite often my characters are born out of the situation. After all we need the right person - the one that will make the challenge that much bigger! :D

  3. I have two dogs in a book I'm working on, and each of them come from difference aspects of the same dog, the one I lived with for a year while I was in Australia. It goes both ways. I love being able to include pets in my manuscripts.

  4. Sherrie, thank you! It feels marvelous.

    Lisa, I hadn't considered it from that viewpoint - characters born from a situation. But as I think back on my MS, I have a few of those types.

    Meagan, two dogs out of one - love it! Dogs are integral in my life, so placing them in my MG manuscript was necessary. =)

  5. My characters usually come out of my idea development, so they are usually related to the culture or setting, or even sometimes to the role they are to play in the story.

  6. True, Akoss, because they move the story along its route.


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