HOW TO STEAL A CHARACTER
We talked about plot stealing in the last post. Now, I’m going to increase my thievery. We can even steal characters. Wow, that’s hard to hear. For some reason there’s the writers’ hubris that we must birth everything from our literary wombs.
That’s insane. How many times in an interview has the question been asked: “So where did you get your inspiration?” I’ve heard all types of artists respond by saying, “I modeled this after that.”
Think about it. There’s a reason that music can be classified by decades — songs of the 80s. During that time, the musicians heard similar tunes and instruments, and they stole them.
In painting, impressionism isn’t something new. It spurred out of a movement which continues on today.
We have similar freedoms as writers. Are we going to recreate a land and call it Middle Earth? Nooo…dont‘ get too crazy. But trust me, the saga that I was reading, which was similar to Lord of the Rings, had a very similar name. But guess what? It worked.
How many times have we seen the “rogue agent” in spy movies. Uhhh…James Bond, Jason Bourne, blah blah blah. The list goes on. What makes these characters unique is their backstories and how they came to be in their current situations.
Think of literary characters that you like, and fashion your characters after a few of these. There’s a reason that Frodo is so memorable. There’s a reason that people hate Sherry Palmer from 24. But guess what? She is absolutely my favorite tv character of all time because of how well she’s written.
But she’s been done before. The crafty 2nd-in-charge who manipulates the decisions of the her higher-ups. It happens in Macbeth I believe. Nothing new. Just the resuscitation of a character from long ago.
Borrowing characters from other sources can be fun. I like to blend two or more characters together, too.
Ms. Nine that’s great advice. And yes I agree. One of my favorite characters in my trilogy was inspired from another novel but after a few tweaks she’s nothing like her parent-character.
I read a quote from a famous author (can’t remember who, darn it) who said something like, “There is no such thing as a new story. Just a new way of telling it.”
Robin, that’s well said. Even William Shakespeare gave the 30 something elements of a drama, and ever since, those have been the only elements in drama. 🙂
I wonder which one of Bill’s I’m using.
good question. i need to look at his elements of drama again. he does say, however, that one or more of the elements can be used.
I love the idea of taking a famous novel and rewriting the story using a minor character. A bit like Wide Sargasso Sea 🙂
Lol very cool! I’ve never heard of that before. Sounds pretty interesting.
How about borrowing characters from real life? I like doing that, well not the entire person, usually it’s fun to take their major characteristics and play and mold them around. Pretty interesting blog you have here
Yes, borrowing from real life is excellent. The looks of two of my characters are modeled after two people I’ve met.
Thanks for the blog compliment.