Thursday, April 28, 2022

From Real Life

 For the past several months I've been hosting authors on my own website in a feature called Tell Me Your Story. I ask my guests to let us in on how events in their lives led them to become authors or influenced their writing. I've had some wonderful guests who've told wonderful stories, and as a bonus I've learned that my sources of inspiration are no different from even the most prolific and successful writers out there.

My guest this month is Betty Webb, author of dozens of wonderful novels, including ten Lena Jones noir mysteries and six Gunn Zoo humorous cozies. Betty lets us in on why her characters are so realistic and relatable. She says  "I get my ideas from my exceedingly weird family, who are weird enough to give me tips for character-driven mysteries, but not so weird that they ruined my childhood." She also admits that she bases her characters on her friends and enemies, too. (You can read about her tips and tricks here.)

This has made me consider my own characters. Mine are fashioned after and inspired by real people in my life, as well. You can't make up people in all their glorious inconsistencies and peccadilloes with anywhere near the imagination that God uses.

Of course, after writing several books featuring the same recurring characters, it seems to me that my characters have developed lives of their own, and they drive the action in my stories rather than the action driving them, just like real life.They may have started out as fictional characters, but they don't stay that way.

The great mystery novelist Graham Greene once said, "There comes a time when your character does something you would never have thought of. When that happens, he's alive, and you leave him to it."(I may have used this quote several times before, but what good is it to know a pithy quote unless you can use it fifteen or twenty times?)

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