It could be you….

One of the most enjoyable things I find about writing, is being able to take from people and places I see every day. I do it all the time.
It always brings to mind that great line from The Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal is giving Clarice the building blocks to finally finding Buffalo Bill:
‘We begin by coveting what we see every day’.
Okay, so I’m not saying I’m about to go across the road and throw a neighbour into a pit so I can make a nice new set of clothes out of their skin, but I am talking about how great it is for a writer to take ideas and form characters and places from things they covet every day.
Some places in my book are real places (or at least were real places from my childhood) and that works perfectly for me as it helps me to instil some life into a place and make it seem real. I also sometimes write in places I see everyday. This could be a road, a house, a church, a field or a school. For instance, in the new book Lost Creatures I have just written in a residential care home (an odd thing to include in a vampire book, you might say but bear with me, it will work I promise) and it is in fact a real place (names have been changed to protect the innocent) that I pass on the way to work every single day. Its certainly not as imposing or creepy as in the story, but my point is that as writers ‘we can begin by coveting what we see everyday’ and from that you can devise whole characters and places that form the backbone of your story.
Taking from people is probably my favourite thing. People are fascinating and I’m happy to take the bad qualities as well as the good. In fact, the bad qualities are sometimes more appealing to me. I don’t think I there is a character in Dark Sanctuary or Lost Creatures who hasn’t been devised without borrowing something from real-life people, even if the aspect that I have borrowed is only small.
From what a character might look like, to their accent, to the way they walk, their mannerisms; hell, even their name, I often take from people that I know, or have met.
It doesn’t mean I am writing a person into the book, it just means I am taking elements of someone, mixing it with my own imagination, giving it a shake and seeing what comes out onto the page.
Places and people inspire me, help me create and motivate me to write and to want to write so I can bring them all to life.
So next time you see me looking at you with a little more interest than usual, I’m probably thinking about how I can covet something you’ve got and include it into my story.
Or maybe you just have a huge bit of spinach in your teeth and I’m just working out whether or not to tell you.

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1 Comment

Filed under Random stuff

One response to “It could be you….

  1. I think it’s incredibly natural to use people and places from your real life to shape the worlds you create in your novels. It’s a great starting point, especially if that person/place has a quirky or unusual aspect to their character that makes them stand out.

    And I hope I’m not one of them, or if I am I hope it’s one of the good ones 😉

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