My character walked in and punched me in the face.

How do your characters come into existence? Do they appear in your head fully formed or do you develop them slowly over time, adding pieces of personality here and there?

My characters come from all over the place. For instance, in the story I’m writing now, my main protagonist just appeared to me one day and I haven’t changed her in the slightest. Her friend however, she’s based on my younger sister, a flighty young girl who should take things a little more seriously. I’ve changed that character countless times.  I also have one character that I discovered while doing research for the story, and this is the man I want to talk about.

He was a handsome fellow.

He was a handsome fellow.

Not many people know much about – or have even heard of – Paracelsus. He was a Swiss German physician, alchemist and general all around occultist, whose writings surprisingly talked about God a lot. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is this quote, because it was the reason Paracelsus became the basis for one of my characters:

And I do not take my medicines from the apothecaries; their shops are but foul sculleries, from which comes nothing but foul broths. As for you, you defend your kingdom with belly-crawling and flattery. How long do you think this will last? … let me tell you this: every little hair on my neck knows more than you and all your scribes, and my shoebuckles are more learned than your Galen and Avicenna, and my beard has more experience than all your high colleges.

BURN! This guy was badass. Not only that, but his real name was Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. He liked to be called Paracelsus because he believed he was next to Celsus in terms of skill as a physician.

How can you not make this guy a character? He is the most interesting person I have never met. The intimidating thing is trying to create a full character based off of him that does him justice. He is that awesome. Listen to me, I sound like a groupie.

I'm not the only one who wanted to adapt him into a character.  Anyone recognise this certain father?

I’m not the only one who wanted to adapt him into a character. Anyone recognise this certain absentee father?

Anyway, he fit perfectly with what I wanted to do with the story, so I adapted the real person into a character that hopefully does him justice.

So tell me, where do you get your characters from?

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9 thoughts on “My character walked in and punched me in the face.

  1. The Sims! Haha, I create characters there and take how they behave into account. Other than that I like to take bits of people I admire, be it actors, musicians or people I know and throw parts in. My dog and cat are pretty good for character writing too because they’re both such energetic personalities. My dog is the clumsiest animal ever, so if I need a character like that I watch her. The cat is obsessively neat, so that gets added into a character. So many places for ideas.

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  2. “Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim”… that’s incredible. One of those situations where real life really is stranger than fiction! I was using an old family tree of German nobility to come up with names for my characters (because the story is set in Germany), and came across one I found quite amusing: “Graf Wladislaus von Hag”… but I think Paracelsus trumps it!

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  3. A lot of actors inspire my characters, to be honest. I got really attached to this Middle Eastern working actor named Assaf Cohen and was like “I’ve got to base a character off him.” So he ended up becoming the protagonist of my WIP! But my protagonist isn’t an actor, obviously. Assaf just inspired the external features – voice, face, mannerisms. I designed my character’s inner personality and circumstance to fit the plot, because I also come up with concepts/plots before I come up with characters (generally).

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    • I’ve never based any of my characters off actors, but I’m sure it will happen eventually. I’ll probably be watching a movie and a portrayal will just resonate with me. I just looked up Assaf Cohen on IMDB. Quite the attractive man! He’s been in a lot over the last few years.

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      • Assaf is just a gem. He is is very handsome! But I really adore how personable he is. He replies to all his @’s on twitter so I’ve spoken back and forth with him in the past. He’s got a great sense of humor. Very inspiring for a character 😛

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