It is a phrase we have all heard time and time again and I am sure most of us have said that to someone. It could have also been said to you. But, what does it really mean?
This person, or you, has done something that sticks out and/or made an impression on the person who made the statement. Often comedy is involved. But much more goes into making a character besides comedic relief. In fact, if you are a writer, you spend a lot of time thinking about your characters and each of us approach developing them in a different manner.
There are some that start with a character questionnaire which the writer completes with the character’s name, date of birth, hair color, height, parents names, siblings, career, etc. I know authors that complete this in detail before they even begin to write their novel.
Then there is the interview process. It begins with the author asking the character their name and the questions continue from there. It is similar to the questionnaire process but with the interview, and depending on the answers given, additional questions may be asked to dig deeper into the character's personality and develop baggage they may carry, so to speak, based on something in their past. You may not have intended to do this, but in the interview process, one thing led to another and new ideas formed to make your characters more well-rounded and deep.
Other authors like to take inspirations from photographs. I know a few who use the photos of stars and unknowns as inspiration for what their hero and heroine look like. This is something I have recently adopted. While watching a movie or TV sometimes one of the actors (actresses included) will have a look I love and remind me of one of my characters. I will look them up on the internet and print off a picture that I post above my computer. That I use as inspiration. I may change the eye color or hairstyle, maybe give them a scar or broken nose, but they remain my inspiration.
In truth, I know very little about my characters when I begin a novel. Everyone, including my hero and heroine are a blank slate. First, I come up with a name and it goes on the top of an index card and posted above my computer. When it comes time to fill in the info of eyes, hair, body shape, etc., I add it to the card as I go. This usually happens while the love interest is observing them. I see my hero or heroine through the other character’s eyes instead of my own. This is also about the time I come up with a picture, or inspiration, of how my characters look. For each quirk one of my characters develops, I add it to the card and sometimes they take up more than one card.
How do you go about developing your characters? Who is your all time favorite character from a book you have read and who is the most unforgettable? They aren't always the same.