Finding Strong Fictional Characters
Larry B was a friend and co-worker who asked if he could be in my science fiction novel. I already had a Gino Somebody. I forget his last name. My character didn’t have much of a personality. Larry B. was the perfect person to model that fictional character after. The Gino Somebody became Larry Gino.
I purposely wrote the description to fit Larry B. perfectly:
“Larry Gino was a grumpy old man with a loud voice and a wicked little laugh that matched his wicked sense of humor. He had a sly mischievous grin and a twinkle in his eye. At 82, he was still a kid at heart. He was of average height with a little pouch of a belly. He had bright gray eyes and a hint of rosy cheeks.”
My friend Larry was a funny grumpy old man. He perpetually bellowed and complained, but he was rarely serious. He laughed and grinned and had a little happy dance. There were also quiet moments when we’d talk about family, the past and stuff. A bit of that information is also in the novel. He had a grandson he wanted to name Gunner, his son said no and named the baby boy Ray. Larry. called him, Sweet Baby Ray.
Larry Gino has three grandchildren, a girl, he calls Sunshine, and two boys, Gunner and Sweet Baby Ray.
Before my book was published, Larry B. passed away in his late 50’s.
As my editor and I made our way through the book, I told her Larry was staying. I feared she night have plans of editing him out. But to my surprise and delight, she liked Larry Gino and wanted him to be a stronger supporting character. I was happy to accommodate.
Once Pegasus Colony was published, I sent a book to Larry’s wife, Karen, through a mutual friend. A couple of months later, the same mutual friend called me with Karen’s phone number. I called her. We talked and made plans to meet at a coffee shop, which turned into a two-hour visit.
She bought four books, two for their sons and two for Larry’s sisters. I asked when she planned to give them the books. After a bit of discussion, she decided to have everyone over for Father’s Day in celebration of Larry’s life and give them their books.
That would be a fun party to attend. I’d like to see their faces when they learn that Larry has been immortalized.
Sometimes there might be a character in your story who does not seem to come fully alive. Look around, you could have a friend whose personality might fit and who would be willing to be part of your story.
Funny thing though, I have other friends in my book whose personality fit a character, but they don’t recognize themselves. I’ve read stories how authors have done the some thing with no problems. They manage it because their character looks nothing like the friend.
It is said that we don’t see ourselves as others do. I believe that’s why authors can get away with it.
But beware . . . There are some authors who, out of revenge, have killed or done evil to a character based on a real person that they dislike. If the person is too recognizable, and that person does not like it, and can prove you have done them harm, they can sue. If you must take your revenge on “that” person, do it to your satisfaction not anyone’s embarrassment. Besides if you and the person make up, you’ll have some explaining to do.
Friends, family members or those you meet when out and about are a wealth of inspiration with interesting characteristics that your characters could benefit from. You can also use bits and pieces of different people and combined them into one of your characters.
Look around and see what’s available, have fun and create strong fictional characters.
Click on Moore’s Myths to learn about Pegasus Colony in greater detail.