Where Do Characters Come From?


Kid Lit Reviews welcomes award-winning children’s writer, Diane Mae Robinson, recipient of  Alberta Canada’s Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts for 2012, as our first guest contributor.



Diane Mae Robinson, author
The Pen Pieyu Adventures  
Book 1: Sir Princess Petra

Many people ask me these questions: Where do you get your characters from?  Are they real people?  Is the main character you? 

The answer is more long-winded than I usually can explain in detail at the time, so my short answer is; I don’t really get the characters, they get me.

Obviously this statement gets me some queer looks, but let me try to explain the process.

The whole process starts when I decide I’m going to start a new book. This is still a terrifying and panicky moment for me as my mind is so muddled with different story ideas. But through many years of experience, I know what I must do. I must get into my creative, right-brain thinking.

My creative thinking spot is in my backyard, amongst the trees and flowers and nature. It’s whatever spot you can go to that you feel totally relaxed and no one is going to bother you for awhile. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you have a big sigh.

I visit my thinking spot as often I as can and think only of characters. Only of their visual appearance. After many days and often weeks of this same training exercise, many visual characters have applied for the job of being in the next book. But there is always a few that just don’t quit applying. Those, I know, are the strong characters.

After the character’s acceptance, I need to find out what they’re about. For this process, I need to visualize them every day. For days and weeks it seems like they’re really talking to me, telling me every detail about themselves. They don’t always speak out when it’s convient for me, so I need my notebook within reach at all times.

They tell me their likes and dislike, attributes and flaws, even what they find funny. Soon, we’re on to where they live and what they like to do.

When I have pages of character notes and feel like I know those characters inside out, the story is ready to be told.

At this point, the story just seems to unfold. A story I didn’t even know about just a few weeks ago. It feels like the characters are writing the story and I’m just the instrument at the keyboard doing their bidding.

So, in answer to the questions, this is how I get my characters. And Yes, some of their characteristics are from real people, and yes, some of those characteristics are me. But the point is, they are fully rounded characters with strength and weaknesses and they are not modeled after any one particular person, but rather born of themselves.

And once those characters are born, I just can’t stop them from going on adventures.


Diane Mae Robinson, Award Winning Author 
Sir Princess Petra - Pen Pieyu Adventures

6 thoughts on “Where Do Characters Come From?

  1. Pingback: Need Y our Help! « Kid Lit Reviews

  2. Thank you Diane for a wonderful post. You are actually the first guest poster on Kid Lit and a most welcome addition.

    Your characters in Sir Princess Petra were definitely enjoyable. Now, are you the knight princess or the “stallion” dragon?


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