Have you noticed that when you are working on different novel projects that you tend to have a recurring character type? I’ve noticed this in some of my favorite authors and their work as well.
It doesn’t mean that you’re writing the same character over and over again — it’s more of a variation — almost like voice in a way — and for me, it says a lot about the influence certain people have in the author’s life.
Something I’ve noticed as far as recurring character types in my work is the grandmother character. I was very blessed growing up because I had two grandmothers and two great-grandmothers. They were all different types. Nettie was mean and could cut you in half with her words. Florence was a romantic and introduced me to The Young and the Restless, Ruby was stylish and always “runway ready” in her appearance, and Elnora was loving and taught me how to make the perfect biscuit.
Elnora is a big influence on the grandmother character in my current novel. Here she is in Atlantic City circa 1980′s posing at the beach:
Growing up, Elnora or “Moya” — a childhood nickname that stuck when I couldn’t pronounce her name right — was a second mother to me. She taught me a lot of country/farm life things like how to season a cast iron skillet, how to shell butter beans without getting callouses, how to make pretty curtains out of bedsheets — but most of all she taught me about unconditional love. Even in college, I would go back to Moya’s house because it gave me all the safety and peace I needed.
I now can see how this seed of influence help grow the relationship between the main character and her grandmother in my current novel.
You can even use your bad experiences with certain people as foundations for great characters. For instance, my mean great-grandmother Nettie? I think a character is already brewing up in her honor in my next novel project. Ha, ha.
Do you have a character type that recurs in your novel projects? Are they based on a combination of real people who had a great effect on your life?