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  • S.M. Ryan

Casting Call - Character Edition

Being a writer means characters live rent-free in my head on a regular basis and they always have a lot to say.


For me, I love a character-driven story, and even more so I love when the character is constantly changed and shaped by what they are facing and that in turn affects the story as it goes on.


That may sound obvious but there are a lot of series out there with main characters somehow remaining unchanged by their journey, but whatever.


My character inspiration usually comes from, wherever ideas usually come from and art I find on Pinterest.


I like saving character inspiration for reasons other than appearances, as I am one of those people who will never see a drawing or a person and go "that's my character right there", too weird for me. Instead, I'm more of a picking-out-the-bits-that-stand-out-to-me kind of person.


Sometimes I save the image because of the color palette, or an outfit, a pose, a moment, energy the art embodies, whatever. Whatever tickles my imagination gets saved to the Pinterest board.


My particular cast of characters for Journey to the Throne are all inspired by the art I found on Pintrest and it's honestly a very loaded board.


Instead of sharing all of that, I thought I'd share some character inspiration as we build our cast of characters for our NaNoWriMo projects next month.



(NOTE: none of the art above belongs to me and ALL rights remain with each artist. These are for inspirational purposes only.)

Now, while it's easy to find inspiring photos for our characters, we need them to do more than look good. It's essential to their storyline that the characters all have substance and a purpose.


Unless you're writing an empty shell of a person on purpose. Then, do what you will.


For me, it used to be really easy for me to come up with all the likable things about my characters and it would take a little more work to find negative qualities that would make them dynamic and more relatable.


People have baggage and bullshit therefore characters need baggage and bullshit, too.

When creating characters, there are a few things I like to keep in mind:

A. Who are they right now and how did they get like this? - aka who raised you?

B. What don't other characters like about them? Why?

C. What kind of character do I need to bring out the worst in you? Who'd bring out the best?

D. What about you and your life would make someone want to change it for better or worse?

E. What do you want?


By now we know I'm the queen of asking questions and this is no different. Asking these questions for my characters helps me to start building their backstories and subsequently give me the types of side characters I need to make the story what it needs to be.


Then I wash rinse and repeat for my side characters so they are just as fleshed out even if most of their story doesn't matter or will never be revealed.


Characters in stories should grow as the story moves along, each serves a purpose and has a motivation that drives them to keep fulfilling their purpose.


Remember, your characters should have an internal and external conflict, even the side characters and yes even if they are super minor inconveniences, give it to them.


This includes villains. Bad guys aren't complete without a purpose and some deep-seated issues.

Some references for helping to get your cast of characters ready for your story that is their performance.



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