“Where do you come up with the ideas for your characters?” I was asked at dinner the other day.
I laughed and said: “Why do you think I take jobs where I talk to a lot of people? Character inspiration my dude!”
“Oh great,” he said, “I’m going to end up a character, aren’t I?”
I looked at him. Tibi would make a good character for a book. He was dressed in a leather jacket, even though it was the hottest day of the year, he had on a nice dress shirt and pants and quasi-formal white shoes.
The shoes, especially, stood out. It seemed that Tibi was making a fashion statement for our casual dinner.
It was like he was determined to dress professionally, but he was going to do it his way.
“I mean, you could be. But it’s not like it’s a one for one. You can’t just take somebody from your life and plop them into a novel,” I said.
But you can. Of course you can. I’m the one writing the book, after all. There’s nothing to stop me from inserting a whole bunch of characters based on people I know. But that’s not exactly beneficial to the book.
Maybe if I were writing a YA novel ala “The Fault in our Stars” then it would be easier to transplant people into the story. Those stories are different, usually involving the emotions of the character to advance the plot. But I’m not. My next book is speculative fiction, an element of the thriller genre where I can bend the rules of reality a bit.
The actions advance the plot.
I tried to imagine Tibi talking to the main character of my next book, who is terse, abrupt. An acknowledged asshole. Truthfully I’ve never seen Tibi get angry before and, almost certainly, that’s how I would write it into the story.
Would I do him justice in writing him into the book? Some people might think so. Tibi probably would not.
But it got me thinking – where do my characters come from? There’s a couple of places, I think. I’ve done an exercise before where I’ve sat in a coffee shop and people watched to try and come up with backstories based on how they walked, what they ordered and how they interacted with those around them.
It’s a lot easier to do this when you don’t know the person – when you don’t go in with a basic understanding of what makes them tick.
It’s important to me that they’re grounded in reality. So I’m looking for facial movements and tics, how they stand, what they do with their hands. The list goes on.
The more I can incorporate those details which define us, the more realistic the characters become.
So, anyway, there I was sitting across from four guys who I used to talk to every single day back when I was working with Shaw. It’s funny how life works that way, sometimes.
But even though we’ve gone from seeing much too much of each other to a dinner every half a year or so, we seem to pick things up right where we left off.
So we make fun of Tibi’s clothing choices (where’s the white belt, man!)
We listen to Glenn’s old man stories. They tend to repeat, after a while. (yes, I’ve heard that one before. Yes, it’s still funny)
Jay surprised everyone when he didn’t order a Bailey’s and coffee.
Mike laid down some existentialist philosophy.
And me. They still call me the kid. THE KID. Even with my luxurious beard!
Same same, but different. Man, I miss seeing those faces every day. Not just the guys at the table, but all those old folks from another life.
Four Legends and a Romanian. It’s a nice thought! I’m no legend, though. I was just really good at getting in front of people and making a fool of myself.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ash, Johnny, TK and the rest. Miss your faces!
And Christ, Winnipeg is beautiful. So much more beautiful than I gave the city credit for growing up. Sitting in the Cibo Waterfront Eatery on a beautiful spring day with the mighty Red River behind me. It’s home, and I love it.
Check Cibo out if you haven’t already.
Tell them I sent you. They don’t know who I am but tell em anyway.
Return of the Khajit.
The Khajit has decided that, in her quest to end me, she needs a closer home base. She stalks her prey methodically, playing a longer game filled with feints and mind games.
For instance, recently she got a new scratching post. She has decided that she only likes one of the patches on it.
But I know better. She is showing just how meticulous she can be.
Like the other day:
She has decided to start living in my closet. If that’s not the face of pure hatred, I don’t know what is.
She has made herself a fort by pulling the cardigans of her greatest enemy, me, off the clothes hangers. I assume that she is thinking that my nose is as sensitive as hers, so she needs to wrap herself in my scent to remain hidden.
If you do not hear from me, friends, assume the worst. It’s only a matter of time until she makes her move.
So. Top five from this week
- Always make sure your belt matches your shoes
- What’s up with radio edits? Like they commit to playing a song, but they can’t commit to the entire thing? SOMETIMES SONGS NEED A PRE-CHORUS, POWER 97!
- Don’t say the wrong thing to me. You might just end up as a character in my next book
- Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer
- Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Ladies and Gentlemen, my brother