When’s the last time you listened to someone tell a story?
My grandmothers were accomplished storytellers. I still remember the sound of their voices as they wove their tales of intrigue and adventure. Sometimes their words gave me chills; sometimes they made me cry. They made me feel and think. The cadence of the words, the way different characters sounded introduced me to a whole new world, while anchoring me firmly in the bosom of family. Sometimes I wish I could run home and sit at their feet and hear their words all over again; feel that safe at home feeling one more time.
Mostly they told stories about past times and family members; always brave and adventurous, because back in the day-if you couldn’t say good things-you didn’t say anything. Ah, the good old days!
Who knows if you can believe the stories handed down through generations? Sometimes there’s evidence or proof to back up the facts or at least some of them. In the telling and retelling facts are forgotten, while others are slightly elaborated on-to make the telling a little exciting.
History, speculation, conclusions, maybes, why, why not, and what ifs-that’s what storytellers tell and fiction writers write.
The stories we’re told, the experiences of our forefathers, our own experiences and journeys are what shape how we think, feel and act. As writers we draw on those emotions, memories and feelings to bring characters to life. We invest them with human qualities we’ve experienced or observed in others.
What stories were you told of your ancestors? What was your grandmother or grandfather like at your age? Where did they live? How did they make a living? What was the world like then? How did those things shape them? How did their upbringing influence you and your life?
Basically, this is how fictional characters are created. By asking questions and finding answers, writers create believable characters and hopefully ones readers will want to revisit time and time again.
Met any real characters lately?