Friday, August 3, 2012

Need Character Ideas? Read The Obituaries

What are stories without a characters? Pretty boring. Most stories have at least one human person in them and to be compelling and believable that human needs to be described and have human traits. This is a very daunting task to 'design' people. But as writers knows, study, observation, and research is how this is done.

One of the easiest ways to come up with components to build characters is from a source that changes daily, the newspaper obituaries. This may sound morbid to some but you can't find a better source of dynamic character descriptions so easily accessible than the newspaper obituaries.

You get three sources of information in a very concise and localized format.

  • Names - Coming up with unique names can be daunting. When you read the obituaries in a notebook have a page for first names and last names. Don't write them down together to avoid legal problems, but you will get a collection of first and last names you can mix and match in a few days.
  • Physical descriptions - Most obituaries have photographs of the individuals both young and old. Use them and write small descriptions on what you see. The hair stile, the smile, facial structure.
  • Backgrounds - Each entry has a small recap of the departed's life. Family, career, life achievements. In your journal make a list of the highlights and when you are designing your characters you have a list and a good starting point on how to give them a background. 
A simple task using something as regular and obvious at your fingertips everyday can save you hours of brainstorming and researching later on.

Time to turn the page.

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