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.

1 thought on “CHARACTER INSERT

  1. mariathermann

    Reblogged this on Stories from the Hearth and commented:
    Hehe, William Stadler is absolutely spot on with this – you’ll particularly notice this character stealing when reading authors who write series of books, such as murder mysteries, romances and crime novels. The inspector with the drink problem/pending divorce etc or the girl/boy with chip on her/his shoulder about their humble origins…and yes, only yesterday I answered those Goodreads author questions about “where does your inspiration come from”. Whatever you answer, dear WP friends, DON’T say “I pinched all my characters from other writers!”

    Here’s William’s spot-on-advice:


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