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Unexpected Influence

December 29, 2014

By CP Bialois

CP Author PhotoGood morning! To get the week started, I thought I’d throw out a question for everyone.

Have you ever noticed how much the people around us influence our writing?

If you’re anything like me, then the obvious answer is yes. We draw on those we know or notice when designing our characters and even our stories. But that answer is way too simple for me (I know, I just have to make things complicated, right? 😀 ).

I guess what I’m saying is, how many times have we created a character whose traits are so vague that we can only wonder where a certain trait came from? I know it’s happened to me more than a few times, and I only recently figured out where a good amount of my inspiration came from.

We all put part of ourselves into our characters, but I go a step further and use my father. Growing up, he was the epitome of tough, demanding, and wise. It’s something that I never thought of until recently, and the more I look at my main characters, the more I see his traits dominating their personalities.

As great as those characters sound, I hate perfect characters. They’re nowhere near as much fun as those with some sort of weakness or damage, so that’s where I put parts of myself in. Now, I don’t mean that as a self-deprecating way. Far from it. I just like to take things I think would be pretty cool or funny as a weakness for my main character.

A perfect example is one of my latest novels, The Winter Creek Beast. The main character is a Native American named Jay Lightfeather who is personable, compassionate, strong, and is intimidated by his grandfather.

Yep, you read that right. While writing the story, I thought about how we react as kids when we’re around someone we’re not familiar or comfortable with. I wanted to capture that feeling of hiding behind our parents when meeting someone new (I could’ve won gold if it was an Olympic event), but in this case, it was with a member of the family that raised Jay.

It was something that seemed so simple, but it resonated with several of my readers to the point some asked me about it. It wasn’t until they approached me that I took time to think about it and you know what? I’m pretty darn proud of it. I love it when someone makes me feel smarter than I sometimes think I am.

If nothing else, this gives me the ability to look at things from a different perspective and appreciate those that have contributed to influence me in every way.

Have you ever had that AHA! moment someone helped you see something so obvious? Do you give an homage to someone, whether intentional or not? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

  1. December 29, 2014 12:53 pm

    CP: You’re “write on” with your observation about flawed characters. Why else would readers enjoy Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone? There’s no way a perfect character can improve or learn from mistakes.

    • December 29, 2014 1:24 pm

      Thanks, Dean. I think we all love to read about someone we can relate to on some level and grow together. Plus, they’re far more fun! I’m a huge fan of anti-heroes for that reason. They usually have more depth and “issues” than any of their fellows.

      It’s awesome you mentioned Sue Grafton. I love her Kinsey Milhone series. LOL

  2. December 30, 2014 8:45 am

    Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    You never know from where or who influence will strike.

  3. December 30, 2014 10:34 am

    My writer’s group has given me grief for making my characters too flawed on occasion. My stories are character driven, and I have to give them lots of room for growth. My entire premiss is to show how humans can overcome adversity (self-inflicted or not) and grow into better people from the challenge. I love people watching and observing those around me for novel material. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • December 30, 2014 12:41 pm

      You’re welcome and thank you for commenting. 🙂

      I’ve been through that same wringer several times, so I feel your pain. lol To me, there’s few things as awesome as pushing the boudaries of the “human condition” in writing. I figure if I don’t torment my characters and make them as real as possible, I’m not doing my job. Few things are as cool as seeing mannerisms and emotions come to life on a page. Except when they exercise free will and do something they shouldn’t. Then it’s time to break out the ibuprofen. lol

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