I sometimes get asked where I find my characters. I’d like to say I pick the up at the local Extras-R-Us, but it wouldn’t be true. The store closed when Plot Depot went bankrupt.
What really happens could be attributed to many things, the easiest being when an entire person flits into my brain, gift-wrapped with a silver bow. It happens often enough to be interesting. Sometimes, enough of the personality is revealed to start, but as the story continues, the stooge adds tidbits I hadn’t noticed.
On other occasions, I find out about a certain quirk that needs to be to be put into a story. For instance, I have a friend who never wears matching socks because it wastes too much of her life to match them. How can that not make it into a plotline? That one detail says more than any eye color or shoe size could.
Much of the time though, I draw from what I’ve seen. I am an inveterate people watcher. I always have been. Look at the few baby pictures I have and you’ll see me, brow knit, staring at someone else, trying to figure out their motives. Either that, or I’m giggling like a fiend. I’ve been known to stand in the back of a crowd and make up details of the interactions I see. Sometimes, I get chided for not having any fun. But if they only knew how much fun I do have, perhaps they’d join. It’s a lot like making up new dialog to a movie with the sound muted. (I highly recommend it as a party game.) But with every new word, a different aspect of character appears. Each facial twist creates a wrinkle.
And then there are the people with snags. I call them the puppy kickers. The ones that end up as story fodder. I can’t pretend I haven’t exacted revenge on a veiled character. I can’t say I won’t do it again, either.
But characters are everywhere, every face has a story. And when one demands to be written, that’s what I do. So the next time someone asks me where I get the people in my stories, I honestly can answer, “From you.” And then throw my head back and cackle.