Second Hand Characters

I saw a meme that said something along the lines of ‘don’t tick me off or I will write you into my story and then kill you off.’ While this is humorous, it got me thinking about characters and where they come from. Do I lift people from my every day life and plop them down in my manuscripts? Do I steal them from other stories and shows? Are they complete figments of my imagination?

Well, seeing as there are no completely original stories, it’s my guess that there are no completely original characters. That probably rules out the figments.

That dovetails with a post I saw on Twitter about writers. Someone asked what writers do in their downtime. It amazed me that out of 23 people replying to the post, universally, they all chose solitary activities. I was the only one that replied with, dinner out with my wife and friends.

For me, characters come from my life and interactions. I love picking quirks, mannerisms, and facial expressions from those around me to drop into my stories. Yes, I must sometimes extrapolate. I can honestly say that I’ve never witnessed someone’s face during a gunfight, but I have played in heated soccer matches and watched people before, during, and after a fistfight.

I have laughed with people, cried with people, I’ve seen the birth of my children and the agony and joy that the moment brings. I have broken bones and held people as they deal with their own injuries. I have seen the exuberance of a bride and the shame of a man in handcuffs.

Experience breathes life into characters.

And so I wonder, how do solitary people who retreat from the world craft characters that live? In this age where binge watching Netflix, flicking through Youtube, and flipping through countless clips on varied apps has become the norm, are we seeing characters pulled from other characters? Are we witnessing second hand characters becoming the new standard in literature?

I wonder if you can tell the difference as you read? I know how characters affect my reading of a story. Their realness and rawness are what draw me to books.


And now for something completely different — should I separate reflection and fiction posts or do you prefer them together like last week? Let me know in the comments below.

To come back round to the Comic-Con weekend, I just want to let it be known that I made the news. I just barely slipped in. See if you can find the Winderl in the clip. I wish I could give a prize, but that’s beyond my current web capabilities.

In the meantime, keep reading and keep flying the Black.

2 thoughts on “Second Hand Characters

  1. I prefer solitary activities but I still end up interacting with ppl, whether I like it or not and I guess that helps. But I think reading about and watching ppl (vloggers) also helps see how ppl live, interact.

    I’ve read stories from ppl who are very outgoing but only in their community and you could tell they live in an echo chamber. Some characters are just stereotypes while others are well-rounded versions of themselves.


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