As writers, we’re always watching (or at least, we should be). When we watch, we can’t help but notice strange things, people, places, objects, etc. Maybe they’re not strange, but they fascinate us in some way.
I’m almost ADHD when it comes to watching. If I’m making small talk with someone in a crowded place, I get antsy really fast, mostly because I’m trying to look around and watch while the person’s trying to talk to me. I don’t like to just stand in one spot very long. I like to walk around and notice things.
People fascinate me most. Sometimes I’ll be in a restaurant or the library, or basically any random public place and I’ll think up little stories about the people I see. I might see a person who looks like one of my characters and I have to resist the urge to stare at them. Crazy, I know.
I don’t usually base my characters off total strangers, though. Most of the time, they’re based off a person I know or a mixture of two or more people I know or find fascinating. (It’s a compliment, I swear!) The more I develop the characters, the more they form their own personalities and become less and less like the real life people they were based on. I take bits and pieces of what I’ve seen from random people and add them to my characters. A strange-looking tattoo, an odd hairstyle, a funny way of speaking…
Dreams are another good source of characters. The odd people who pop up in my subconscious mind are often nothing like the people I know in real life. A good number of my characters are based on people I’ve “met” in dreams. The imaginings of the subconscious mind can be an endless source of inspiration.
So… how do you create your characters?