By Jael Strong
As I have noted before, writers often find the inspiration for their characters in the real world. We often pluck our characters out of our plethora of friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers, etc. This a good first step to building a great character.
This first step of selecting inspiration for a character must be quickly followed by the step of transforming the real life inspiration into a character owned by the writer. We don’t want to simply transplant a non-fiction entity into our world of fiction. We have to transform them by accentuating certain qualities and adding new dimensions until a new character is born, a character that can truly belong to the writer.
In “Birdie and the Girls”, the character Birdie is inspired by an aunt of mine, but in no way is she representational of her. My aunt has the tendency to get carried away with an idea, often leading to disappointment. I took the idea and ran with it with Birdie. Though I started with my aunt as the inspiration, Birdie took on a life of her own. Ultimately, Birdie is her own woman and can not truly be identified with any specific person from the real world.