Where Do Characters Come From?

USA used to have this great slogan when “Burn Notice” was on.  Characters matter.  I believe they are right.  In order to write a decent television series Characters do matter.     I started writing this article on my next episode of Third Eye, when this idea hit me.   It may have been one of those voices inside my head.  Perhaps it’s that wild character Mordecai Morphine speaking to me.  One of Morphine's looks

Mordecai Morphine is indeed an interesting character, who I completely stumbled upon.  He brings me to an interesting topic.  Where do characters come from?   Yes these characters come from somewhere inside our sub conscience, but how do they get there?  Is it true that writers work from a composite?  I have found the answer to be yes and no.  In the past I have written characters based on some people I knew, or aspects of people I knew.  For instance I got an idea for a play I wrote after going to my tenth high school re-union.  Every character I got an idea for came from someone I knew from high school and I based those characters on what they would be like in their late 30’s.  My main character was an FBI agent named Brick Morton who returns to his high school reunion, while working on a case to bring down the mob.  The guy I had based Brick on was a complete bombastic moron when I knew him.  For whatever reason, I decided to take some of that arrogance and create a hero out of him.  What came out was a completely different character, but one that was unique and definitely interesting.  Previously I discussed a movie called Derby Double, which I had written about British Soccer, now my main character Seamus O’Brien was a composite of George Best, but his joy and love of soccer came from an old school chum I knew when I lived in England.  A lad by the name of Christian Langworthy.  Christian was the most talented soccer in the school I attended, but what always marveled me about Christian is how much he loved the game.  He played it with passion and a smile on his face.  Christian passed away many years ago, but while I was writing Derby Double, I felt his presence and put a lot of his boyish charm into the character of Seamus O’Brien.
Mordecai Morphine, Shadow’s Assassin came to me in an entirely different way.  He isn’t based on someone I specifically know.  He comes from the world of politics.  I stumbled upon this guy while doing some research for the Third Eye, specifically conspiracies and scandals.  This man was involved in a huge scandal, one that rocked the foundation of this nation.  I started to looked into his biography a little and I became fascinated with him.  It wasn’t his past deeds that caught my attention, but rather his image.  I couldn’t get his image, out of my head, which includes those beady eyes, that receding hairline and that bushy mustache, it all made for a perfect assassin.  I added a few touches of my own.  Morphine speech is very clipped.  He speaks in short phrases rather than long speeches, because that is the nature of a man, who does not wish to be discovered.
As for the rest of the Third Eye characters, they come from my imagination.  However that certainly doesn’t mean that in the future a new character may pop up out of nowhere and come from someone I know.





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