Fiction writing tips – Inventing your characters

Where do fictional characters come from? Does the stork bring them; do they grow in cabbage patches? Both seem like possibilities, since story characters can pop up just about everywhere else.

Some places to start:

  • Someone you see on the street or in the supermarket. Imagine a life for this person, and you’ve got a fictional character.
  • Take a picture of a person in a magazine. Invent a name for him or her, a personality, hopes and fears, annoying habits.
  • Open the phone book to a random name. Let’s say you come up with “B. Goulding.” What might the “B.” stand for? Write down the first thing that comes to mind; for example, Bertha. When you imagine someone named Bertha Goulding, what mental picture occurs to you? I see someone tall and fat, maybe sixty years old, with black curly hair and red lipstick. Turn the name you’ve chosen into a fictional character.