How much do you “Borrow”?

Speaking with a friend about my novel recently we were discussing where some of our characters come from.  I told her there are some where I know exactly where they came from; they are not so blatant rip-offs of characters I have seen in other stories.  That might sound bad but I don’t really think it is.  I am not taking the character and just dropping them into my story.  No I am changing some things to make that character mine, but the basis has been “borrowed” from another writer.

This one character I am speaking of I have wanted to create since I read several books with her original.  Yup it’s female.  I won’t say which character or which books I took her from but she appealed to me, even if I despised her for being the villain, because she was a strong, fiercely independent woman who went after what she wanted.  In much of the stuff I read, I don’t see a lot of that.  Or at least I didn’t used too, there are now books coming out or becoming popular which DO have a female like that.

Anyhow this character floated around my consciousness for years.  I never intended to use her; I just wanted to use elements of her.  Well when I decided to make my short story in to a novel, I needed to figure out exactly why the one character was where she was.  It occurred to me she was similar to the one I had read so many years ago.  So I used the other female as a basis for my own.  She is not a doppelganger by any means but if you put them side by side, you would notice how alike they are.

Am I worried about revealing this?  Not really.  Is she the only one?  Nope, I have others although none as heavily borrowed as my female.  I am trying to distinguish them in ways so that they do become my own characters and not a copy of someone else’s work.  Some characters this is easier to do than others.  For now though I will take my inspiration where I can find it and not worry about what someone thinks.