Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » inspirations for characters

   
Author Topic: inspirations for characters
dreadlord
Member
Member # 2913

 - posted      Profile for dreadlord   Email dreadlord         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ive been reading some of the older books in my personal library and I just realized exactly how much my characters come from the greats of literature.

for example, one of the assassins of my latest graphic novel could be Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride. (the book, not the movie. although there is barely any difference between the two.) or my mentor who could pass for Gandalf, with a few wrinkles.

so this is a chance for people to just say who they get some of their character ideas from.

(note: this is not plagiarism. the characters always seem just a little off)


Posts: 240 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LucyintheSky
Member
Member # 8475

 - posted      Profile for LucyintheSky   Email LucyintheSky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm of the opinion that almost all post-Tolkien fantasy writers have (consciously or unconsciously) at least one Tolkien character in disguise in their work. Re-reading The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever right now, and they pop up all over the place even there.
Posts: 54 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LucyintheSky
Member
Member # 8475

 - posted      Profile for LucyintheSky   Email LucyintheSky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I should add that I don't mean that in a negative way. We are inspired by the characters and stories we love most.
Posts: 54 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
satate
Member
Member # 8082

 - posted      Profile for satate   Email satate         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I find that I am most inspired by the people closest to me. I see bits of my husband in lots of my characters, my sister, my mom. I've never based a character off of one person but different aspects of their personality come through in my characters.

I'm sure stories have influenced my characters. I know the characters from Les Miserables have but I think they have less influence than the people in my life.


Posts: 962 | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When I'm inventing a character, I look for inspiration by figuring out what makes people tick, what drives their reactions, passions, and failings. What underlies their emotions and motivations. For a fully fleshed character, I want a logical character, what makes one logically react in one way and another react in another.

I operated on pure instinct until I read Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons. Critics said of the novel that it had a loosely organized plot, with several side plots that unraveled rather than resolved, and the overarching plot just petered out. I found unity in the story, in all the scenes and plot milestones and a complete story. The novel portrays the trials of Will Cooper, an abused orphan making his way as best he can in the world. In his twilight years, he finally knows why he's how he is. He doesn't say why. He shows why, though. From recognizing what emotional forces underlie his actions and reactions--they're established in the beginning--I understand how his experiences flow in a logical, potent sequence of causation.

I did a similar analysis of Quoyle and coprotagonist Agnis Hamm in E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News. Similar theme to Thirteen Moons, different outcomes.


Posts: 5158 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cheyne
Member
Member # 7710

 - posted      Profile for Cheyne   Email Cheyne         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Inevitably we are all influenced by our favorite writers and characters, but as well we put ourselves in each of them. I have found upon re-reading my own early works that many of my characters were just different versions of me. They were not physically similar to me but they were motivated by things that would motivate me in similar situations. As I've grown as a writer (I have too!) I have found that my characters, while becoming more and more individualized, still maintain a certain flavor of my personality. Perhaps one day they will be entirely their own.
Posts: 340 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Stephen R. Donaldson (author of the Thomas Covenant books) has said that he did not read LORD OF THE RINGS before he wrote his books. I don't know if he's even read the series now.

One thing that may be a factor here is something called an archetype. Those are characters that appear in a lot of stories because they resonate with something deep in our "collective conscience" as Jung puts it. Joseph Campbell's HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES discusses this "archetypal journey" aspect of folk tales and stories that survive for centuries.

Gandalf, Merlin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Dumbledore, and so many others like them belong to the mentor archetype.

Frodo, Bilbo, Arthur, Luke, Harry Potter, and so on belong to the hero-who-doesn't-know-that-he-is-destined-to-do-great-things archetype.

When we read a story with archetypal characters, we need to be careful not to think that the author has borrowed or copied them from some other author who has also written about archetypal characters.

And we don't need to be afraid of using such characters ourselves even if people will think we "borrowed" them. They are time-honored character types and as long as we bring our own interpretations and experiences and insights to them, they are our own, no matter who else used them, too.


Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LucyintheSky
Member
Member # 8475

 - posted      Profile for LucyintheSky   Email LucyintheSky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well color me chagrined. I had no idea Tolkien was no influence on Donaldson. I guess I just assumed that his Ranyhyn (noble, free-willed horses) and dark forests with self-aware, malice filled trees were influenced in part by Tolkien. In my defense, it obviously must have come up before if he has specifically made comments about not taking influence from Tolkien.
Posts: 54 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cheyne
Member
Member # 7710

 - posted      Profile for Cheyne   Email Cheyne         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think that Joseph Campbell's HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES is a must read for anyone who wishes to write. Especially if you are writing anything remotely heroic. His insights into the archetypes of the world's literature will humble anyone who believed they had an original idea.
Posts: 340 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
LucyintheSky, no need for chagrin. You aren't the first, nor will you be the last to make that kind of connection. Especially since there are plenty of authors who have read and been influenced by Tolkien.
Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
philocinemas
Member
Member # 8108

 - posted      Profile for philocinemas   Email philocinemas         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ooh, ooh, ooh! (sorry, a Horshack moment). I recently listened to an audio lecture called Of Sorcerors and Men, by Michael D.C. Drout, that addressed this very issue. However, I could have sworn that he suggested there was a connection somewhere even though Donaldson has denied it.

Now I'm going to have to listen to it again... You'll have to give me a few days though. I'm finishing Ender in Exile. And yes, I am being lazy, but I drive an hour each day and don't have much free time right now.


Posts: 2003 | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LucyintheSky
Member
Member # 8475

 - posted      Profile for LucyintheSky   Email LucyintheSky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Philocinemas, I am really intrigued. If you get a chance to refer back to that lecture, I'd love to hear that info and the reference (like how I'm letting you do all the legwork?).
Posts: 54 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Greenscreen
Member
Member # 6896

 - posted      Profile for Greenscreen   Email Greenscreen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think we tend to write what we like. If we happen to like powerful wizards or outcast warriors then it is likely that our characters will probably seem somewhat similiar to Gandalf or Aragorn. Like Ms./Mrs. Woodbury said it's not plagarism to do so. Me I happen to like Japan quite a lot and I oft find myself including a character who is Japanese or else Asian of some kind or other. Ussually female, ussually young and ussually involved in a romantic interest of some kind, though not always all of these. Can I help it I think they're beautiful?
Posts: 61 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
steffenwolf
Member
Member # 8250

 - posted      Profile for steffenwolf           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I read Hero with a Thousand Faces, and found much of the language hard to wade through. He has a lot of really interesting points, but I found summaries of the book more useful than the book itself.
Posts: 299 | Registered: Oct 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have to agree with you there, steffenwolf, but there are those who would enjoy the wade.
Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dreadlord
Member
Member # 2913

 - posted      Profile for dreadlord   Email dreadlord         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
is it anything like The Art of War? if so, tell me where I can get it.
Posts: 240 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I also found THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES a little impenetrable. These stories are so fascinating to me that it was painful to have them turned into such dry, academic material.

For those who don't want to wade through Campbell, I recommend THE WRITER'S JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler. I recently finished this myself. It goes through the hero's journey, too. But I found it more accessible and enjoyable than Campbell. Vogler's work is mostly in film, so most of his examples come from that, rather than literature. The movie he uses through most of the book is the Wizard of Oz.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited February 27, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited February 27, 2009).]


Posts: 4404 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cheyne
Member
Member # 7710

 - posted      Profile for Cheyne   Email Cheyne         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dreadlord,
I am afraid that it is not much like The Art of War. And might be a little harder to read. Here is a link to download a free PDF version of the Hero With a Thousand Faces. Or just google the book name with pdf afterward to see more options


http://www.esnips.com/doc/4e3708f3-43e3-477 e-9b12-d048f1364f0c/Joseph-Campbell---The-Hero-With-A-Thousand-Faces-%5BENGLISH---pdf%5D


The book also is available from Amazon.

[This message has been edited by Cheyne (edited February 27, 2009).]


Posts: 340 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cheyne
Member
Member # 7710

 - posted      Profile for Cheyne   Email Cheyne         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Here is a link for a short 'Practical Guide to The Hero With a thousand Faces' Adapted from Chris Vogler's work.
very short.

http://www.skepticfiles.org/atheist2/hero.htm


Posts: 340 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lullaby Lady
Member
Member # 1840

 - posted      Profile for Lullaby Lady   Email Lullaby Lady         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
http://www.folkstory.com/

I think it would be a great writing exercise to create a story following a "Campbellean" structure. :-)

~LL


Posts: 212 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lullaby Lady
Member
Member # 1840

 - posted      Profile for Lullaby Lady   Email Lullaby Lady         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry-- one more resource for Campbell's "Hero Cycle":

http://www.drl.tcu.edu/PoC/Hero/Power_Myth/hero_cycle.htm

~LL


Posts: 212 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
InarticulateBabbler
Member
Member # 4849

 - posted      Profile for InarticulateBabbler   Email InarticulateBabbler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
dreadlord, if you're looking for a book similar to Sun Tzu's The Art of War, I highly suggest Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings. Musashi was an undefeated dueler, masterless samaurai and an independant teacher. He killed his first man at thirteen and last at twenty-nine, and discontinued using a real sword part-way through--as he still delivered lethal blows with the blade. Where Sun Tzu was a general, Miyamoto Musashi was a warrior, and both techniques only improve on each other.
Posts: 3682 | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2