Reflections on Creating Characters

The other day, Aladdin was on TV, so needless to say I watched it.

It was as I watched it that I realized something.

I think I had inadvertently stolen personality traits for one of my most central characters in the main series I write from Aladdin.

Last week I had the privilege of speaking with a bunch of students at my old high school Carmel College. I made a point to them about the process of coming up with ideas. I told them that I had once heard it said that creativity was basically just being really good at stealing other people’s ideas.

It is sort of true though.

Most if not all of my ideas that I use in my stories have generally begun life in something I’ve read or watched or seen and thought ‘Oh yeah! That would be cool but what if I …. (insert idea here).’

This can be the same for characters.

So I started to think. I have this main character in a series I write called ‘The Tasks.’ He’s an anti hero. Good guy who has had some bad times and made some bad decisions but the whole series follows his rise, fall, and final ascendance in the fullness of his whole personality  and seeing his purpose.

I started to reflect on just where I’d borrowed his personality from and I have managed to track down five examples from five characters in TV shows I used to watch.

aladdinOf course Aladdin – as mentioned before. Cunning, smart, quick, and noble.

LiI was never a huge fan of Li from Cardcaptors – mostly because I wasn’t a huge fan of Cardcaptors. I did however watch it sometimes when I got home from school. Li’s dedication to Sakura and his short temper balanced with a sort of reflective moodiness was something I totally borrowed.

kovuIn reflection, Kovu – from the Lion King 2 – was a character I completely stole nearly every trait from for this central character I have. Dark and cunning, his bad guy to good guy shift was always something I found interesting and used for my character.

number 1

When I was younger I was a HUGE fan of Code Name: Kids Next Door. It was epic. Number 1 was awesome because he was brave, strong, quick thinking and also HUGELY egotistical and these were all traits I borrowed from him for my character.

And of course…

robinRobin is probably one of my favorite characters ever. Ever ever. What I loved about Robin was his seriousness and the underdog nature of his persona. Dick Grayson (the best Robin) lost his entire family and because he has no powers or pedigree he always had something to prove. I love Robin and his small start in life to becoming Night Wing. Dark and edgy. All stuff  totally stole for my character.

Last but not at all least:

trunksTrunks. Oh yes. Dragon Ball Z. What I loved about Trunks is that he was the son of a bad guy so had some of those personality traits himself but was quite funny and relaxed. A huge part of this was ‘borrowed’ for my character. The balance between being relaxed and being a little bad…

Anyway. It’s funny when you stop to think where you got ideas from. For me these are some examples. Again, I don’t think it is bad to pilfer ideas from places because ultimately it is all ‘research’ and getting inspiration then rolling it together and making something awesome.Have a think about your characters and ideas. I will bet you’ve done the same thing!



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