Sunday, December 16, 2007

Characters - Aisle 2

One of the questions I get asked most often is where I "get" my characters. That's easy - they're on aisle two at Home Depot. :) Okay, so maybe not on aisle two, but I bet plenty of my characters have graced a Home Depot in their day, even though they might not necessarily be waiting for me to discover them there. Sometimes this question isn't such a hard one. For instance, in the case of my hero/heroine, they are born out of the plot. I have to pick the perfect person to be put in the situation I've dreamed up - usually the worst person possible for the worst situation possible. That's what makes for good conflict.

Secondary characters, though, are a whole different ball game. Sometimes, secondary characters are simply born out of the story like the hero and heroine. Sometimes they're the surprise at the bottom of your cereal box. Ha, got ya. They're not really in the cereal box, but sometimes they will surprise you by just being there in your mind. And I promise, I really don't have a clue how they get there, but I'm glad they do. Then every once and a while, a character is born out of someone you knew. I know, I know, the books always say that any similiarity, blah, blah, blah, but come on....how could we possibly write a book with a character that bears no similarity at all to someone that exists on this planet.

Now, for those of you who've read RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU, I'm very happy to report that Maylene is totally a figment of my imagination. That whole thing with the Saran wrap would have scarred me for life if I'd actually witnessed it firsthand. But in the case of UNLUCKY, a version of Father Thomas does (did?) walk this earth (not sure if he's still alive). Thomas wasn't his name and he was Episcopal, not Catholic, but Father T had some definite similarities to the other Father.

Of course, the real problem with using real people for books is not the legal liability. God knows people almost never see themselves as others do, so you're probably safe on that end. No, the problem is that "real" people do things far more ridiculous than we're allowed to do with story people. Story people have to have motivation and that motivation has to translate to actions that make sense - even if only to that character. "Real" people? Well, that's a whole other story.

Take this situation for instance - which is a true story, related to me by my brother, a volunteer fireman in a small town. Volunteer fireman (at least here in my area) are also EMT's and if you're in a small town then you get more runs than the hospital paramedics simply because you're closer, so they have a good relationship with the local hospital paramedics and like to exchange war stories. So my brother's paramedic buddy went on a call that turns out something like this:

Two brothers were sitting at a bonfire outside of their house, drinking beer...apparently WAY too much beer. And one brother decides that he's going to pull the boil off his brother's butt with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. The other brother, being equally as drunk, thinks this is a fine idea. Now, for those of you who don't know, boils are not surface level items - they have roots. So when Bro 1 pulled the boil, he also removed a hunk of Bro 2's butt. So an emergency call ensues.

Now when the ambulance arrives, Bro 2 is bleeding profusely and has a hole in his butt (well, another hole), so they want to transport him to the hospital immediately. Bro 2 refuses the transport. And do you want to know why???????????

Because they weren't going to let him smoke in the ambulance.

I'm telling you, even writers can't make some of these people up.

Deadly (slightly disgusted) DeLeon

19 comments:

Christie Craig said...

Oh my Gawd!!

This is too crazy to write about. Hmm...at least this isn't your uncle Bob or your next door neighbor.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Crime Scene Christie- WHO IS GOING TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNER OF OUR BLOG CONTEST TOMORROW ON HER BLOG.

Christie Craig said...

Oh my Gawd!!

This is too crazy to write about. Hmm...at least this isn't your uncle Bob or your next door neighbor.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Crime Scene Christie- WHO IS GOING TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNER OF OUR BLOG CONTEST TOMORROW ON HER BLOG.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Christie - we moved out of "that" neighborhood last year. :)

Val said...

That is weird but alot of regular folk do get crazy when they drink! Happy Holiays from a fellow blogger, Val

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Val - yes, lots of things can certainly be blamed on alcohol. :)

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I don't even know what to say to that except BWHAHAHAHHAHA!

And you're right - if I had read that in a book I'd probably roll my eyes!

Estella said...

I belonged to a small town fire dept. for 23 years----Oh, my god,you wouldn't believe some of the things that happened.

Jana DeLeon said...

Jenyfer - you're absolutely right. No one would want to believe someone was that stupid, but there you have it. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

estella - you must share stories sometime. I bet you have some doozies!

Jana DeLeon said...

estella - you must share stories sometime. I bet you have some doozies!

Tori Lennox said...

ROFL!!! Lord have mercy, but people are so freakin' weird!!!

Jana DeLeon said...

Yes, Tori, I completely agree - people ARE weird. But doesn't it make you laugh? :)

Dru said...

OMG! Can people be that crazy?

Jana DeLeon said...

Yes, dru, they can and they are - thank goodness - what great entertainment. :)

catslady said...

EWWWWWWWWWW and YUK. Funny you should tell this story today - talking with my 85 yr. old mom who has an infected finger which led to her telling me about the time my dad squeezed a huge boil on her arm - again I say EWWWWWWWW.

Stacy S said...

That's too funny! The things people do when drunk.

Jana DeLeon said...

I agree, catslady - yuck!

Jana DeLeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Stacy - Glad you like the story!