I just published my second novel (Paperwork, by Celine Nisaragi). It got started during a free, online course in how to write a novel. Creating the lead character was so much fun, and not done the way I expected.

Most people, if they are like me, believe the lead character is modeled after yourself or after someone you know. T’ain’t so. Not in a good story. Why? Because you will run head on into the wall of “so-and-so would never do that” or fall over the cliff of “but it didn’t happen that way in real life”. So, what do you do?

You choose three people that interest you, take three characteristics from them that you find fascinating, and create your character from those elements.

I chose (1) my cat– for its graceful movement, the comfort it feels in its own skin, and its ability to shrug off stress.
(2) My grandmother–I admired how she could talk to anyone, anywhere, and hold her own. I especially admired her uncanny knack of knowing who in her circle needed her help and her genuine concern for other people’s well being. She was down-to-Earth practical, grew her own food, and could cook amazing dishes out of anything she had to hand.
(3) A folk singer I know who has had a long, successful career and cannot read a note of music. He raises enormous sums of money, then gives it away without a second thought to human rights causes. He is getting on in years, but moves and acts like a much younger man.

You’ll find all of these qualities in Paperwork’s heroine, Cheryl Markovic Dugan. The paperback book is up on Amazon. If you don’t mind waiting, the Kindle version will be up in a few more weeks. The “look inside” feature (free chapter!) should kick in any day now.

While you’re waiting, maybe you would enjoy creating your own fictional hero using the above technique.

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