Have you ever wondered where authors get some of the names, situations and location for their stories?
Well, I’ll tell you a secret… Come here, a little closer to the screen. I don’t want anyone else to hear. *whispering* all around them.
Locations – Where will the story take place?
That’s right, most authors write about what they know and where they have been. So, if a writer grew up in Alaska (Such as Jack London), then you will most likely hear about the adventures of Alaska.
Personally, I grew up in Ohio but have lived in Montana, Florida, Maine and Massachusetts. So you will find my stories delve in all of those areas. I do write about other parts of the world as well (as you will read in my new book “The Ter’roc” coming out in 2013), however it makes it harder to provide more detail about the location and I am a detail man. The more detail you have, the more you can really ‘feel’ the moment.
Now, I have visited England a lot and it has a special part in my heart, so I do enjoy writing about that location as well. One thing I am very grateful for is Google Earth. When it comes to writing about an area you have never been to, it makes research a LOT cheaper. You can look all around an area and then extrapolate from your imagination from there.
One reason I also enjoy using real places that really exist, even in extreme fantasy situations, is the connection that the locals end up having. I may talk about a little town I grew up near that no one has ever heard of and go into great detail about, exciting the locals that their town is actually in a published story. So, it suits multiple purposes.
People – How to create a person that never existed
People are a bit trickier, because the truth is, you can’t really get a good feel for people until you get to know them. One oddity about a book or story is that you rarely get the chance to say “Okay, here’s Bob, he’s a drunk, type A personality with a love of beating women.” It’s just not the way you write (or at least not the way I write). You want to create a character that allows the reader to come to their own conclusion about how the person really is.
So what you do is search back mentally through the people you’ve known in your life and concentrate on one specific person. What idiosyncrasies did they have in their personality? Where they OCD? Did they love children? Did they hoard things?
You find a few specific things and focus on those, then maybe add in a few other traits from other people you’ve known to give them an even more interesting twist.
…and the number one rule? DO NOT give the character the name of the person you’re developing from.
I frequently use names of people I know (not last names, just first). However, I tend to only use the names of people I respect for one reason or another. I do often (especially in my novels) find names that are not connected to people I’ve known, only because I do not like the character (i.e. they are evil or mean). I know, it sounds silly, but it’s true.
Writing a story is a magical, therapeutic and sometimes very rewarding experience. So, I recommend everyone get out there and write a little story… you never know where it will take you.